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2008 National League Division Series 1
From BR Bullpen
|2008 National League Division Series|
|Los Angeles Dodgers
84 - 78 in the NL
|3 - 0
97 - 64 in the NL
|2008 MLB Postseason|
|AL||LAA - BOS||TB - BOS||PHI - TB|
|TB - CHW|
|NL||CHC - LAD||PHI - LAD|
|PHI - MIL|
|<< 2007||2009 >>|
The first National League Division Series of 2008 matched the Chicago Cubs, owners of the best record in the National League, having led the NL Central almost from start to finish, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won the NL West almost by default. The Cubs had had their best regular season since 1945, when they had last played in the World Series.
For a time, all teams in the West were playing under .500, and the Dodgers could still not close the gap with the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, even though the Snakes were playing very mediocre baseball after a hot start. It took a blockbuster deadline trade to energize the Dodgers: they acquired slugging left fielder Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox; he had worn out his welcome in Fenway Park with his eccentricities and sometimes lackadaisical play. In Los Angeles though, he was a monster, hitting .396 with 53 RBI in 53 games, sparking the team to overtake the D'Backs and win the division by two games. Still, the Cubs had been the class of the league, and were on a mission to make sure that 2008, the centennial of their last World Series win in 1908, would be the year when whatever curse semed to plague the team since that date, would be consigned to history. They were heavily favored, but the Dodgers would dispose of them easily, sweeping the series in three games.
 The Teams
 Series results
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers 7 Chicago Cubs 2||October 1||Derek Lowe (1-0) Ryan Dempster (0-1)||6:30 p.m.|
|2||Los Angeles Dodgers 10 Chicago Cubs 3||October 2||Chad Billingsley (1-0) Carlos Zambrano (0-1)||9:30 p.m.|
|3||Chicago Cubs 1 Los Angeles Dodgers 3||October 4||Rich Harden (0-1) Hiroki Kuroda (1-0)||10:00 p.m.|
 Game 1 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Derek Lowe (1-0), LP: Ryan Dempster (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LAD - James Loney (1), Manny Ramirez (1), Russell Martin (1); CHC - Mark DeRosa (1)|
- Attendance: 42,099
Los Angeles won Game 1 at Wrigley Field, 7 to 2, thanks to lots of walks and a barrage of home run power. Ryan Dempster, who had been outstanding at home all year, started the game for the Cubs, but had trouble with his control. He walked a batter in each of the first two innings, then two more in the 3rd, but got out of a bases-loaded jam when he struck out Andre Ethier on a full count. In the meantime, the Cubs had taken a 2-0 lead in the 2nd on a single by Jim Edmonds followed by Mark DeRosa's home run to the right field corner. Dodgers starter Derek Lowe was in trouble as well, but apart from DeRosa's blast, only gave up singles, and was bailed out twice by inning-ending double plays, in the 3rd and 5th innings. In the 4th, Dempster completely lost the plate after two outs, walking Manny Ramirez and Ethier in succession to load the bases. After two quick strikes to James Loney, he fell behind in the count again, and Loney blasted a pitch to center field, in the first row of seats, for a grand slam. Dempster was gone after allowing a double to the next batter, Matt Kemp, having surrendered 7 walks and 4 hits in 4 2/3 innings. A deathly silence fell on Wrigley Field at that point.
The Cubs wasted a chance to bring the score closer in the 5th, when Aramis Ramirez led off with a double but was stranded. Reliever Sean Marshall kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard in the 6th, but gave up a leadoff home run to Ramirez in the 7th to make it 5-2. Lowe departed after 6 innings, having given up 7 hits, but with only DeRosa's two-run blast doing damage. Young Cory Wade succeeded him with a scoreless inning of work on the mound, but the Dodgers kept piling on. A double by Blake DeWitt, coupled with an error by center fielder Edmonds and a single by Casey Blake gave the Dodgers a sixth run, then Russell Martin added another long ball in the top of the 9th to make it 7-2. Manager Joe Torre had used his usual set-up man, Jonathan Broxton, to pitch the 8th, but with a sizeable lead, he called on veteran starter Greg Maddux to finish the game, which the 350-game winner did on four ground balls, none of which left the infield, even though Ryan Theriot was credited with a single on a close play at first.
 Game 2 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Chad Billingsley (1-0), LP: Carlos Zambrano (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LAD - Manny Ramirez (2)|
- Attendance: 42,136
The Dodgers took a two games to none lead in the Series by stunning the Cubs for a second consecutive night, this time taking advantage of poor infield defense. Carlos Zambrano started for the Cubs, and while he had pitched a no-hitter in September, his second half had been quite poor, making Cubs fans nervous about what was to come; his opposite number Chad Billingsley, however, had been outstanding all year. The outcome of the game was not in doubt for long.
After a scoreless 1st inning, Andre Ethier and James Loney hit back-to-back singles. Matt Kemp struck out, then Blake DeWitt hit a ground ball that should have resulted in an inning-ending double play. However, second baseman Mark DeRosa bobbled the ball to load the bases. Casey Blake then hit a bouncer to first base, and this time Derrek Lee misplayed it for another error and a first run. After Billingsley made the second out, Rafael Furcal caught the Cubs completely off-guard by laying a bunt to the right side of the mound, good for a single and a second run. Russell Martin followed with a base-clearing double that rolled to the fence in left-center field, and the Dodgers had themselves a comfortable 5-0 lead. The Cubs added two more errors during the night, in a pathetic display that left manager Lou Piniella fuming in the postgame press conference. The main target of his anger was RF Kosuke Fukudome, who had gone 0 for 8 in the two games while swinging feebly in every at-bat, but the Japanese import was far from the only culprit in the Cubs' discomfiture.
In the meantime, Billingsley cruised along, keeping Chicago off the scoreboard until the 7th inning, by which time the Dodgers had padded their lead to 7-0, with Manny Ramirez connecting for his second long ball of the Series. Jim Edmonds drove in a run with a double to the ivy in the bottom of the 7th inning, and the Cubs added two runs in the bottom of the 9th to make the final score 10-3, but it was much too little and way too late. For the second night in a row, the Cubs had been thoroughly outplayed at home, and looked nothing like the 97-win team that had been the class of the National League over the regular season.
 Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Hiroki Kuroda (1-0), LP: Rich Harden (0-1), SV: Jonathan Broxton (1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: 56,000
The Dodgers completed their unexpected sweep of the Cubs with a 3-1 win in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. Lou Piniella made a few changes to his line-up, removing RF Kosuke Fukudome, who he had criticized strongly after Game 2, and moving Mark DeRosa, whose fielding had been shaky in the infield, from 2B to RF. Mike Fontenot was inserted into the line-up at second base, while Rich Harden, who had been outstanding for the Cubs after his acquisition at the trading deadline from the Oakland Athletics, was sent to the mound. For the Dodgers, there was no reason to mess with a winning combination. The line-up picked by Joe Torre was the same as he had used in the two games in Wrigley Field, with the Japanese rookie (but Nippon Pro Baseball veteran) Hiroki Kuroda taking the mound; he was a notch below his teammates Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley, but had still posted a solid 3.73 ERA in 31 starts and would give Cubs batters a handful.
The Cubs wanted to get on the scoreboard early to erase the bad taste from the first two games, but were stymied by Kuroda, leaving two runners on in the 1st inning. The Dodgers then replied by getting to Harden quickly. After one out, Russell Martin doubled and Manny Ramirez singled, putting runners at the corners. Harden struck out Andre Ethier, but James Loney, author of the Game 1 grand slam, hit a double to right scoring both runners. The Cubs were in a 2-0 hole. The Dodgers then did what they do best, keeping the Cubs off the board as Chicago left two men on base in both the 3rd and 4th innings. In the bottom of the 5th, Rafael Furcal walked and Martin followed with another clutch hit, a run-scoring double to the wall in left that pushed the Dodgers' lead to 3-0.
Kuroda left the game in the top of the 7th after putting two men on with one out. Cory Wade relieved him and got out of the jam even though he uncorked a wild pitch along the way. He did falter in the 8th, when Derrek Lee hit a lead-off double and Daryle Ward, pinch-hitting for reliever Carlos Marmol, singled to drive him in. The Dodgers' closer, Takashi Saito, had given up two meaningless runs in Game 2 after suffering from arm woes in the second half, so Joe Torre decided at that point to bring in his set-up man, Jonathan Broxton, to finish the game. Broxton struck out DeRosa to end the inning, then retired the Cubs in order in the 9th, including strikeouts of Ryan Theriot and Alfonso Soriano. He sent the Cubs home wondering how many more years it would be until they would return to the World Series.
 Related Sites
|Major League Baseball National League Division Series