Blue Jays stay alive with victory
October 20, 2016, 12:18 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles' Rich Hill, who was pitching in the independent Atlantic League just 14 months ago, threw six scoreless inning to steer the Dodgers to a 6-0 win against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, taking a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.
The American League equivalent remains alive after Toronto pulled off a 5-1 victory over Cleveland to reduce the deficit in that best-of-seven series to 3-1.
Hill's fall from the majors to an independent minor league and then back into a playoff for a place in the World Series was part of the folklore the sport thrives on.
"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," the 36-year-old 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.
"We need to get a couple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feeling back," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, "because, obviously, when you're not scoring any runs, it makes it even more difficult in the dugout."
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 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 strong from the start against one of his former teams, retiring the side to open the game and later eight in a row. He's given up one run in 23 innings over four home starts.
"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 in the third inning, ending an 0-for-15 slide with runners in scoring position in postseason play.
Yasmani Grandal was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against Arrieta in his career before he launched a two-run homer in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. It drove in Josh Reddick, who singled and stole second and third.
Justin Turner homered on the first pitch leading off the sixth to chase Arrieta, who gave up four runs in five innings.
Joc Pederson doubled in a run in the eighth and Grandal hit a run-scoring groundout.
Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters went 1 for 11 in the game and are 2 for 32 in the series without an RBI.
Toronto staved off elimination as Aaron Sanchez allowed only one run in six innings, and his relievers did not allow any runners on base.
Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead and Edwin Encarnarcion drove in two runs as the slumbering big bats of the Blue Jays lineup awoke after having scored only three runs across the opening three games.
Cleveland will try again Wednesday to win and reach its first World Series trip since 1997, but the big concern for the Indians coming into the series — an injury-riddled rotation — still lingers.
Corey Kluber was starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, and in Game 5 Cleveland will send lightly used rookie Ryan Merritt to the mound against Marco Estrada.