Fourteen months removed from independent ball on Long Island, Rich Hill pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers into a 2-1 NL Championship Series lead over the Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers won 6-0 in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.
LOS ANGELES – Fourteen months removed from independent ball on Long Island, Rich Hill pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers into a 2-1 NL Championship Series lead.
Hill allowed two hits in six innings to beat Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and the Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-0 Tuesday night.
“I knew there was going to be an opportunity to get back to the big leagues as long as I stayed healthy and I felt strong,” Hill said. “Just perseverance. That’s it. Just continue to keep pushing through no matter what, even if you feel like you’re almost ready to give up. You never know, that next door you open might be the one that makes the difference.”
After winning a big-league high 103 games during the regular season and sparking belief they could win the World Series for the first time since 1908, the Cubs have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time this year, managing six hits — five of them singles.
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“We’re not hitting the ball hard,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They’ve pitched well. Obviously, I have no solid explanation. We’ve just got to keep working at it. … There is really no excuse. We just have to pick it up quickly.”
For Chicago, MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo (2 for 26), Addison Russell (1 for 24), Jason Heyward (2 for 19), Dexter Fowler (5 for 28) and Ben Zobrist (4 for 26) are all struggling mightily in the postseason. The middle of the Cubs’ lineup is particularly lacking, and Maddon’s adjustments haven’t helped.
Hill, who pitched for the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks in August 2015, struck out six and walked two. Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton and Kenley Jansen finished, giving the Dodgers consecutive postseason shutouts for the first time.
Julio Urias starts Game 4 for the Dodgers on Wednesday and, at 20 years, 68 days, will become the youngest starting pitcher in postseason history. John Lackey, 37, will start for the Cubs.
“He’s not scared of the moment,” fellow Dodgers rookie Corey Seager said of Urias. “He’s not scared of anything.”
Hill was acquired from Oakland along with Josh Reddick this summer at the trade deadline. The 36-year-old left-hander struggled with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand that landed him on the disabled list from mid-July to late August.
The blister still bothered him in the final weeks of the regular season, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled him after seven perfect innings against Miami on Sept. 11.
Hill was strong from the start against one of his former teams, retiring the side to open the game and later mowing down eight in a row.
Hill has given up one run in 23 innings over four home starts for the Dodgers, lowering his ERA in those games to 0.39.
“Changing speeds, pitching off the breaking ball, mixing in the fastball, yeah, he kept them off balance all night,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Seager, who had three hits, put the Dodgers ahead with an RBI single in the third. He is the younger brother of Mariner Kyle Seager.
Grandal was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against Arrieta in his career before he launched a 3-2 pitch into the right-field pavilion in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.
Grandal drove in Reddick, who had singled and stolen second and third.