CHICAGO – After two duds by the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers look ready to run Chicago’s championship drought to 100 years.
Ramirez hit a mammoth homer to extend his postseason record, Russell Martin had a three-run double and the Dodgers took advantage of four errors by the clumsy Cubs in a 10-3 victory Thursday night that gave them a 2-0 lead in the N.L. division series.
The Cubs became the 23rd major league team to lose the first two games at home in a best-of-5 playoff series. Only one has come back to win – the 2001 New York Yankees against Oakland. That Yankees team was managed by Joe Torre, now in the Dodgers’ dugout.
“It wasn’t good baseball. In fact, the last two days, that’s probably been the two worst games we’ve played all year,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “It wasn’t fun to watch, I’ll tell you that.”
The series switches to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 on Saturday night. Rich Harden will face Los Angeles’ Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched a four-hit shutout against the Cubs on June 6.
“We’re going to come out and try to jump on them again at home. That would be nice,” Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley said.
Billingsley shut down Chicago’s slumping lineup and Ramirez’s 26th postseason home run landed on the roof of the batter’s eye club in center, at least 450 feet away.
On defense, the Cubs collapsed. All four infielders made an error, including two in the second that led to a five-run inning for Los Angeles. The four errors by Chicago tied a division series record.
Billingsley allowed five hits and a run in 62/3 innings to the Cubs, who haven’t played like the team with the N.L.’s best record or one that went 55-26 this season in its home park.
After losing 7-2 in Wednesday night’s opener when starter Ryan Dempster walked seven, they played tight, even with ace Carlos Zambrano on the mound, dropping their eighth straight playoff game overall.
Los Angeles got four unearned runs in the second when Chicago’s defense faltered as back-to-back errors by normally reliable Mark DeRosa and three-time Gold Glove winner Derrek Lee ignited the Dodgers’ five-run inning capped by Martin’s three-run double off Zambrano.