Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The Dodgers broke a 20-year postseason spell with a shocking sweep, while extending the playoff futility for the Chicago Cubs to over a century without a championship.
James Loney doubled in two runs in the first inning and Russell Martin had an RBI double in the fifth, backing the strong pitching of Hiroki Kuroda as Los Angeles moved to the National League Championship Series with a 3-1 victory over the Cubs.
The Dodgers swept the best-of-five Division Series against the team with the top record in the National League and will face either Milwaukee or Philadelphia in the NLCS. The Brewers staved off elimination in the other first-round series with a 4-1 win Saturday, forcing Game 4 Sunday.
Kuroda (1-0) allowed six hits, walked two and had four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, consistently dodging trouble as the Dodgers swept a postseason set for the first time since beating the New York Yankees in the 1963 World Series. This was the Dodgers' first postseason series triumph since 1988 when they beat Oakland to win the Fall Classic.
It was also a sweet moment for Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre. Ramirez, acquired in mid-season from Boston, walked twice, singled and scored on Saturday on a quest for his third World Series title. Torre, in his first year as manager of the team after leaving the Yankees, has the Dodgers roaring again.
"From start to finish, our starters have been consistent," said Torre. "I'm happy we have a few days off. We're happy we can sit back a little."
The sweep was a shocker considering the Dodgers not only lost five of seven season meetings to the Cubs, but were three games under .500 at the start of September before rallying to win the NL West with an 84-78 record.
"It's very satisfying," said Torre. "We had a lot of people doubting us all year. We weren't resentful about it. It was just a fact we hadn't played well enough to get anybody's attention."
Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth inning to get the save, fanning Alfonso Soriano to end it and sending the Dodgers into celebratory mode on the field before their frenzied fans.
"From spring training to this point, we're here and we're advancing to the second round," said Ramirez. "We have a great team. It will be more crazy than this when we got to the big dance."
Despite winning 97 games during the regular season, the Cubs couldn't carry that momentum into the playoffs. They were outscored 20-6 in the sweep and lost their ninth straight playoff game since an infamous collapse during the 2003 NLCS against the Florida Marlins. The Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908.
Rich Harden (0-1), acquired by the Cubs this season from Oakland, gave up five hits and three runs before being lifted with one out in the fifth inning.
Derrek Lee had three hits and scored the lone run for the Cubs on a pinch-hit single by Daryle Ward in the eighth inning, but the Cubs left nine men on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Soriano finished 1-for-14 in the series as the Cubs were swept in the first round for a second straight year, falling to Arizona in 2007, also scoring just six runs in that set.
"I've seen it now for six games," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "All I know is you've got to score more runs than we scored to win. You can pitch well, you can play well, you can talk about anything you want, but the bottom line is unless you get shutouts you're going to lose."
Rafael Furcal walked with one out in the fifth and scored when Martin followed with a double to left field for a 3-0 margin.
The frustration mounted for the Cubs in the seventh. Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome singled with one out. That's when Cory Wade replaced Kuroda. Soriano flied out to right, and after Theriot advanced a base on a wild pitch, Mike Fontenot flied out to a backtracking Matt Kemp in center field.
Lee doubled to left to begin the eighth, but Aramis Ramirez fanned and Geovany Soto popped out. Ward singled up the middle, but Broxton then came in and struck out Mark DeRosa.
It was more of the same futility for the Cubs in the ninth as Theriot went down swinging, Fukudome grounded out to shortstop, and Soriano then couldn't hold up on a check swing on a ball in the dirt.
"We never put any pressure on them," said DeRosa. "They were loosey-goosey. We didn't play the way we did all year."
The Cubs had runners on first and second in the opening inning, but Soto grounded out to end the threat.
In the bottom half, Martin doubled with one out and Manny Ramirez singled. With two outs, Loney doubled to the corner in right field, and Ramirez slid in safely when the throw home went up the line.
Chicago had two runners on base again in the third, but Aramis Ramirez grounded into a force play to stop the threat.
"I didn't have all my stuff today," said Kuroda. "I had great command of my slider the two times I faced them during the season and maybe they were looking for it, but I was able to dominate them without my slider."
After the Dodgers left two runners on in the third, the problems continued the next inning for the Cubs. Soto doubled to lead off, but after a pair of groundouts and an intentional walk, Harden struck out.
"It's a tough one, everyone was pretty confident, and then we hit a wall," said Harden.
Manny Ramirez has hit safely in 38 of his 43 postseason games, at a .350 clip...His teams are 58-40 overall in the postseason...Loney drove in six runs in the series, which included a grand slam in the opener.
10/05 02:44:26 ET