CHICAGO – There is a reason games such as Tuesday night’s at Wrigley Field are called “pivotal.”
The ballpark was full of life and anticipation as Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers got underway on a beautiful October night.
Kyle Schwarber got the crowd of 41,871 jacked up when he homered on a first-pitch offering from Dodgers starter Yu Darvish to put the Cubs up, 1-0, in the first inning.
But this game began to pivot the other way in the second inning, when Andre Ethier led off with a home run against Kyle Hendricks.
That was the first of several more things to go the Dodgers’ way, as they moved closer to total series dominance. They won, 6-1, and took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Dodgers began turning things the other way when Chris Taylor picked up another solo homer in the third.
Joc Pederson, making his first start of the series because the Cubs were throwing a right-handed pitcher, doubled leading off the fifth. A bunt by Darvish failed to advance Pederson, but Taylor took care of that with a triple to the left-field corner.
The Dodgers chased Hendricks in the sixth after Yasiel Puig reached on third baseman Kris Bryant’s error and Ethier singled.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon turned again to reliever Carl Edwards Jr., whom he used five times with varying results in the NL Division Series against the Nationals.
Edwards got one out before walking Austin Barnes to load the bases. Pederson flied to right field but not deep enough to score Puig.
So it was up to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts: pinch hit for Darvish with Curtis Granderson, or let Darvish bat with the bases loaded and two outs. Granderson was ready to hit, but Roberts allowed Darvish to bat.
Edwards obliged by walking the pitcher to force in a run. After striking out Taylor, Edwards left the field to a chorus of boos.
The Cubs have had trouble hitting for almost the entire postseason, but a warm wind blowing out provided some hope they could get the bats going.
Maddon made one change to his starting lineup. He benched second baseman Javy Baez in favor of switch-hitting Ben Zobrist. Baez entered the night 0 for 19 this postseason.
“I love him,” Maddon said of Baez. “We grab a lead, you got to get him out there. It’s been frustrating.
“This kid is so good, and he’s been such a big part of us. We’ve just got to keep moving forward. I know the offense is going to come back to him.”
Zobrist batted leadoff and went 0 for 4, with Schwarber moving up to the second spot, but they got little going all night against Darvish. They put two on with two outs in the fourth, but Hendricks ended the inning with a strikeout.