LOS ANGELES (AP) -It's a century and counting for the
Los Angeles Dodgers
shoved Chicago into another long winter Saturday night, completing a three-game sweep of their first-round playoff series
with a 3-1 victory.
The Cubs' latest flameout has to be among the most galling, considering they fell flat against the Dodgers after their best
regular season since 1945 - the last time they appeared in the World Series.
The Dodgers dominated this series, outscoring Chicago 20-6 thanks in part to a lot of help from the bumbling Cubs. Cursed
or not, they were outplayed in every way, committing six errors and doing a woeful job of hitting with runners in scoring
''Let me tell you this: You can play postseason baseball for now to another hundred years, but if you score six runs in three
games, it's going to be another hundred years before we win,'' manager
said. ''We just didn't hit. We had opportunities and you have to take advantage of them.
''This is six games I've managed now in the postseason and we have scored just 12 runs. That doesn't get it done.''
hit a two-out, two-run double in the first to get Los Angeles started, and
worked 6 1-3 brilliant innings in the first postseason outing of his career.
''Man, right now this is the place to be,'' Ramirez said. ''We're going to the second round.''
The three wins boosted first-year manager
's postseason total to 79 - the most in baseball history. His first 76 came in the last 12 years as skipper of the
New York Yankees
, including 16 in four World Series triumphs.
''We had a lot of people doubting us all year,'' Torre said. ''We struggled to find out who we were for a long period of time.''
After earning their first postseason series win in 20 years, the Dodgers will face Philadelphia or Milwaukee in the best-of-seven
NLCS starting Thursday - at Philadelphia should the Phillies win, at Dodger Stadium should the Brewers prevail.
''There's no easy way out of this thing,'' Torre said. ''But we're just happy we have a chance to sit back a little bit.''
And the Cubs head home without having come close to their first World Series triumph since 1908. They have lost nine straight
playoff games, including three to Arizona in the first round last year.
While the Cubs clinched the NL Central on Sept. 20 and won a league-high 97 games, the Dodgers had a losing record as recently
as early September before turning things around behind Ramirez. They went 84-78 and won the NL West, baseball's weakest division.
''We have the best team in the league, and we struggle in the playoffs,'' Cubs outfielder
said. ''We did not play good, like a team. That's the reason we didn't win.''
The Dodgers, meanwhile, entered having won only one postseason game since beating Oakland in the 1988 World Series. They tripled
that output against the Cubs, who became the first team to finish with NL's best regular-season record and be swept in the
first round of the playoffs since the Astros in 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Ramirez, who hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games after joining the Dodgers, went 1-for-2 and scored a run, giving
him five hits in 10 at-bats with two homers, five runs scored and three RBIs in the series.
(0-1) walked Ramirez intentionally twice.
''I did it before, I'll do it again,'' Ramirez said. ''When you're relaxed and you're in a place you really like, this is
The Dodgers acquired an unhappy Ramirez from the
Boston Red Sox
at the trade deadline.
The Dodgers began their locker room champagne celebration within a couple minutes after the final out, and several returned
to the field shortly thereafter to share their joy with the fans.
went into the left-field pavilion, and Kemp poured champagne into Kuroda's mouth in front of the Los Angeles dugout as the
Torre spoke to the fans some 20 minutes after the game ended.
''Dodger fans, you are very special,'' he said. ''The way you supported us all year when we struggled, when we couldn't get
out of our own way ... I can't tell you how much we appreciate it. Just don't go away, we'll be back next week, because we
still have eight more games to win.''
With that, the fans roared their approval.
Kuroda, a 33-year-old rookie who signed a $35.3 million, three-year contract with the Dodgers last winter, scattered six hits
before being relieved by
with two on and one out in the seventh. Kuroda never appeared in a playoff game during 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo
Carp of the Japanese Central League.
This wasn't Kuroda's first outstanding performance against the Cubs - he shut them out on four hits while striking out 11
on June 6 at Dodger Stadium.
''I must say I didn't have all my stuff today,'' Kuroda said through a translator. ''But watching those two games in Chicago
and the fans cheering, I rode the wave along with the fans.''
The Cubs were pretty awful in the first two games at Wrigley Field, where they were an NL-best 55-26 during the regular season.
Game 1 starter
matched a career high with seven walks in 4 2-3 innings in a 7-2 loss, and each of the four Chicago infielders committed errors
in Game 2, leading to a 10-3 setback.
A move to Los Angeles didn't help the Chicago offense, which scored a league-leading 855 runs this year. The Cubs had only
four hits in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first two games before going 1-for-11 in Game 3.
At least the long-suffering Cubs fans weren't around to boo them in Game 3, although the Dodger Stadium faithful made up for
Martin hit a one-out double in the first and took third on a single by Ramirez. After Harden struck out
, Loney hit a liner down the right-field line, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead and sending the towel-waving fans into an early
walked with one out in the fifth and scored on a double by Martin.
The Cubs got their run in the eighth off Wade on a leadoff double by
, who had three hits, and a two-out RBI single by pinch-hitter
relieved and struck out
to end the inning, and worked a perfect ninth with two more strikeouts to earn a save.
Harden allowed five hits and three runs in 4 1-3 innings. He had gone 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his last 10 starts of the regular
Notes: The Dodgers were 23-9 at Dodger Stadium after the All-Star break for the best home record in baseball. ... The Cubs
were 42-38 on the road, but won 21 of their final 29 road games including nine straight from July 23-Aug. 15. ... Former Dodgers
threw the ceremonial first pitches. Both were members of the franchise's first World Series champions, in 1955. The Dodgers
moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles three years later. ... The Astros tied St. Louis for the NL's best record in 2001.