Dodgers Shut Out Cubs Again and Take 2-1 N.L.C.S. Lead


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Catcher Yasmani Grandal after his two-run homer off Cubs starter Jake Arrieta gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.

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Paul Buck/European Pressphoto Agency

LOS ANGELES — When the Chicago Cubs arrived in the National League Championship Series, they carried some comfort knowing that no one named Harvey, Syndergaard or deGrom would torment them this time.

But if this October is different from last — the Mets and their young fireballing pitchers have long since gone home — it is also becoming apparent that the Cubs’ hitting problems in the playoffs remain.

The Los Angeles Dodgers tossed a second consecutive shutout at the Cubs, seizing a two-games-to-one lead in the N.L.C.S. with a 6-0 victory before a raucous crowd at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.

While Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner homered to pace the Dodgers, the Cubs had only four hits, which is one more than they managed in Sunday’s 1-0 loss. That defeat was easily explained, since it came at the hands of Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ left-handed ace. But the Cubs were just as bamboozled by the journeyman Rich Hill, who was pitching in an independent league a little more than a year ago.

Hill, who was acquired from the Oakland A’s along with Josh Reddick at the end of July, allowed two singles to Kris Bryant, two walks and little else over six innings.

The Cubs’ problems at the plate were largely overlooked in their division series win over the San Francisco Giants. Still, they were bailed out in that series by their own pitchers, who drove in six of the 17 runs they scored in four games.

“Obviously, I have no solid explanation,” Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve just got to keep working at it. We’re just not hitting the ball well. We’re doing the same kind of routines, the work is the same, the batting practice is the same — or lack of it is the same — and we’re just not getting the results right now. There is really no excuse. We just have to pick it up quickly.”

Maddon tinkered with his lineup Tuesday, dropping Anthony Rizzo from his customary third spot to cleanup and moving Addison Russell, who has often batted fifth, down to seventh. The moves helped neither hitter.

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Starter Rich Hill after striking out the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo to end the top of the sixth. Hill then left the game, having yielded only two hits.

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Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Rizzo, who did walk, has two hits in the playoffs in 26 at-bats. The second one came in the ninth when Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ closer, shattered Rizzo’s bat into pieces and chose self-preservation rather giving chase to Rizzo’s dribbler.

Russell, who struck out and lined out before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, is 1 for 24 in the playoffs.

Others are not doing appreciably better. Jason Heyward, who is 2 for 19, was benched for Jorge Soler, who is 0 for 7. Ben Zobrist is 4 for 26. Dexter Fowler, the leadoff hitter whom Maddon continually admonishes with as “you go, we go,” is 5 for 28 after a two-out double in the eighth.

Fowler’s hit came off reliever Grant Dayton, which led Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts to summon Jansen. He struck out Bryant, who is one of the Cubs’ few dangerous hitters at the moment.

“We have to have a better approach at the plate as a team,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “I think we’re trying to do too much. We’re all trying to be heroes here.”

It was not the Cubs’ night in many ways. Montero, the star in the opener, grounded out meekly when he had an opportunity to put them in front early while Hill was still searching for command of his looping curveball. Javier Baez, the flashy fielding second baseman, bobbled a couple of slow rollers that cost the Cubs a run.

And even when the umpires helped the Cubs out — at one point ruling that pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan had beaten first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the bag for an apparent infield single — it was quickly overturned by replay.

“It’s a momentum thing. It is contagious,” Coghlan said. “We can try to pretend that it’s not, but it is.”

he last time Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pitched at Dodger Stadium, it was late last season, and he threw a no-hitter, catapulting him toward the N.L. Cy Young Award.

The Cubs reduced his innings this year — he had thrown 40 ⅓ fewer innings entering Tuesday night than he did at this point in 2015 — hoping he could be dominant in the playoffs. But his second-half slide has continued into October.

He helped the Cubs as much in their division series with his bat — hitting a three-run homer off the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner — as he did with his arm, allowing two runs and surviving several deep fly balls. But Arrieta had no such luck on Tuesday.

Grandal’s two-out homer came after he fell behind in the count, 0-2, then worked the count full after Reddick stole third. The eighth pitch of the at-bat was a low fastball that Grandal reached down and drove deep to center field. As it cleared the wall, the crowd erupted, providing Grandal with a soundtrack as he circled the bases to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

There was no grinding it out for Turner. He hit the first pitch he saw from Arrieta over the center-field wall to start the sixth. It put the Dodgers ahead, 4-0.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the third when Andrew Toles sliced a single to left, and took second when Hill showed bunt, pulled the bat back and hit a bouncer to third base. After Chase Utley popped up, Corey Seager lined a 1-1 fastball to right for a base hit.

Right fielder Soler came up with the ball in strong position, but his throw was high and late, and Toles scored easily. It was a lost gambit for Maddon, who started Soler in place of Jason Heyward — a Gold Glove right fielder — so he could get another right-handed bat in the lineup against Hill.

When center fielder Fowler clattered into Soler while running down Reddick’s drive into the right-center gap in the second inning, it may have given everyone in the Cubs’ dugout unpleasant flashbacks. In the first week of the season, Fowler collided with left fielder Kyle Schwarber, leaving Schwarber with torn knee ligaments and ending his season. This time, nobody was hurt in the collision, and Fowler and Soler tapped gloves as they reached the dugout at the end of the inning.

It was one of the few times the Cubs made solid contact all night.

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