Yu Darvish pitched into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.
Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip - on a long foul ball in the first inning.
Looking for a four-game sweep, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since their last championship in 1988. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.
CUBS FANS OPTIMISTIC FOR RETURN TO WRIGLEY, TO NO AVAIL
Kyle Schwarber's first inning home run gave fans a reason to cheer, but it didn't last. The Dodgers quickly evened up the game and then took the lead, which they never gave back.
Earlier in the day, enthusiasm was at a it a slow boil, if you will; hours away from the start of Game 3 and the atmosphere around Wrigley Field was subdued, but not pessimistic either. Two games to none was not the best place to be, but it also isn't the worst.
"We were down 3-1 in the World Series, too. We came back and won. Two-nothing isn't a big deal," said fan Brandon Spidel.
Cubs fans believe playing at home will make the difference.
"We haven't seen them lose in several years. Every time we come, they win. This is my third time up here this year," Gary Kral, Cubs fan, said.
For businesses in Wrigleyville, a Cubs win is needed if they're to continue making money. Certainly merchandise sales are not where they were last year.
"They're right on with what we anticipated. We knew that it wouldn't be what it was last year, but sales are still brisk and anything with a Cubs logo, people, they want to have it," said Brad Rosen of Sportsworld.
Overall, business owners say they're still ahead. The last couple of years have been game-changers, not just for the Cubs but for everyone in Wrigleyville. Bars are thriving as once-half-full games are now sold out. The seasons have lasted much longer than usual.
"We think prior to the game we're going to be very busy. Most of these games go a couple of hours, so after the game not so much. It is a weeknight, it's a school night, so people may be going home," said Zach Strauss, Sluggers.
Resellers said tickets are more expensive at home than they are in L.A., or even for the Astros-Yankees series, but still lower than expected. Snagging a ticket for tonight only costs $108, if you can find one.
"They said they have nothing. The only thing you can do is go online. They said no StubHub either, so we'll see," said fan Kathy Bax after a visit to the Wrigley box office.
ARE THE NUMBERS ON THE CUBS' SIDE?
Not only does Grant DePorter run the namesake restaurant group of the Cubs' legendary announcer harry Carey, but he's also one of the team's biggest fans and an expert on Cubs numerology, which leads him to believe this is the Cubs' year once again. It all revolves around the number 113.
"The Cubs have been to the World Series 11 times and won three. The first game played at Wrigley was on the 113th of the year. They bring Joe Maddon, you know, on November 3rd, 11/3," he said.
DePorter said the number 113 comes up dozens of times in the history of the Cubs; almost as much as the number 108. A year ago DePorter was convinced by the numerology that the Cubs would end their World Series drought after 108 years because of the amazing times the number 108 comes up in the team's history.
Baseball is already a sport rich in superstition and a lot of fans are ready to buy in.
DePorter is convinced fans can add another World Series t-shirt to their collections this year.
"The numbers are real and this year the number 113 was screaming and saying 'We're gonna win back to back, like we did 108 years ago,'" he said.
Cubs Manager Joe Maddon has been taking some heat on social media for decisions he made Sunday in Game 2.
"Social media. The moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire. We won't be phased in the sense that, 'Oh my God, this is a dire situation. We can't do this,' kind of thing. We'll be fine. We've had some tough losses before that we've been able to bounce back from," Maddon said.
PHOTOS: Cubs fans create art to showcase team pride
A local artist added color and Cubs pride to Wrigleyville Tuesday morning.
"Got up early here this morning to come out and paint and brighten up the streets, add a little life to Wrigley," said Russell Muits, a graphic designer. "It's really just about kind of drawing attention to things you often don't pay attention to."
Muits has been making prints from his street metal paintings for years. He hoped his paint and brushes would add a little luck for the team Tuesday, ahead of Game 3.
"Last year, during the World Series run, I was out here painting almost every morning. I figure pick that back up and hopefully give them a win," Muits said.
Cubs fans said the team needs it. With back-to-back losses, the faithful want to fly that W. They proudly showed off their gear in Wrigleyville on game day.
"They have to win, that's all. They have to. We love the Cubs. We're from southern Illinois, but we live in Wrigley now. We're Cubs fans and that's why we're here," said Peggi Tolliver, who roots for the Cubbies.
Local business owners want that win too. Mark Tolliver manages Sheffield's Beer and Wine Garden, a bar and restaurant located south of Wrigley Field.
"It's great to have this business in October. For this time of year here, usually we're not this vibrant in the neighborhood, but last year it was great," Tolliver said.
CUBS NLCS SCHEDULE:
Game 3: Dodgers at Cubs, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17
Game 4: Dodgers at Cubs, 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18
Game 5: Dodgers at Cubs, 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 (If necessary)
Game 6: Cubs at Dodgers, 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 (If necessary)
Game 7: Cubs at Dodgers, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22 (If necessary)
Slumping Cubs alter lineup for NLCS Game 3
The Cubs altered their lineup for Game 3 of the NL Championship Series on Tuesday night, putting Kyle Schwarber in the No. 2 spot and benching struggling second baseman Javier Baez.
Schwarber got the start in left field against Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish. With Schwarber batting second behind Ben Zobrist, NL MVP Kris Bryant, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Willson Contreras each moved down a spot in the order.
"We've done this before. We've done it with K.B. 3, and Rizzo 4," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "So the guys have seen this method. Again, it was more to put Zo and Schwarbs in an advantageous position as much as anything else."
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also made some changes to his lineup. Joc Pederson got the start in center field, Chase Utley replaced Logan Forsythe at second base and Andre Ethier was in left. Chris Taylor moved from center to shortstop.
Chicago lost the first two games in Los Angeles. The World Series champions are batting just .117 (7 for 60) in the best-of-seven series.
Zobrist replaced Baez at second base, but the slick-fielding Baez likely will come in if the Cubs have a lead late in the game. Baez is 0 for 19 with eight strikeouts for the playoffs.
"I hate playing any game of baseball without Javy on the field because he's such a dynamic defender, and he's been a big part of our defense, and hopefully we will get him in the game later," Maddon said.
Roberts also stayed with Austin Barnes behind the plate, but indicated Yasmani Grandal could start Wednesday with Jake Arrieta on the mound for the Cubs.
Roberts said he liked the matchup for Utley against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks and putting Ethier in the lineup also gives him the option of using Curtis Granderson in a pinch-hitting situation against one of the Cubs' right-handed relievers.
"Also with 'Dre, I think I like him against Hendricks to just kind of put quality at-bats together, give Curtis a little blow and maybe get him in there in a big spot," Roberts said. "Obviously with Joc in there in center field, we trust Taylor at short."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.