Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Dodgers shut out Cubs again, take 2-1 lead in NLCS

LOS ANGELES — Fourteen months removed from independent ball on Long Island, Rich Hill pitched the 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 Los Angeles defeated the 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 majors-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.

"More than anything, I think we need to get a couple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feeling back," manager Joe Maddon said, "because, obviously, when you're not scoring any runs, it makes it even more difficult in the dugout."

Hill, who pitched for the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks in August 2015, teamed with three relievers to give the Dodgers consecutive postseason shutouts for the first time.

Julio Urias starts Game 4 for the Dodgers tonight and at 20 years, 68 days will become the youngest starting pitcher in postseason history. John Lackey starts 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 at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The 36-year-old left-hander struggled with a blister on his left middle finger 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 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 eight in a row. He has given up one run in 23 innings over four home starts for the Dodgers.

"Changing speeds, pitching off the breaking ball, mixing in the fastball, yeah, he kept them off balance all night," Roberts said.

Blue Jays stay alive

TORONTO — Just in time, Josh Donaldson and the Blue Jays broke out the bats to save their season.

Now they have a chance to really make things interesting in this AL Championship Series.

Donaldson backed up his fiery pep talk to teammates before the game, homering and turning in a timely diving stop to help Toronto avert a sweep with a 5-1 win over the Indians.

The Indians still lead the matchup 3-1, but with a couple of big hits and a strong outing by Aaron Sanchez, Toronto handed them their first loss of this postseason.

"I'm not going to give too much away of what I had to say, but just more so getting everybody's attention and focus and understanding," Donaldson said. "I mean, everybody knew coming into today how important today was. But at the same time I just wanted to kind of reiterate that and let the boys know that I was coming to play."

Cleveland will try again today to win to earn its first World Series trip since 1997, but the big concern for the Indians coming into the series — an injury-riddled rotation — still lingers. In Game 5, Cleveland will start Ryan Merritt, who has pitched just 11 innings in the majors, against Marco Estrada.

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