LOS ANGELES -- Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter when he pitched in Dodger Stadium 14 months ago. But that was then and this is the National League Championship Series and the Dodgers lead it, two games to one, after Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner took Arrieta deep and Rich Hill silenced the Cubs in a 6-0 win on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
After back-to-back shutout victories, the Dodgers are two wins away from their first World Series appearance since 1988, but Grandal tried to put the brakes to that train of thought.
"You can't look ahead," he said. "I mean, these guys won 100-some games. They've got the talent, so you can't think ahead. If you think ahead, that's when bad things happen."
With the Dodgers' starting rotation shorthanded and needing innings from Hill, the former Cubs lefty delivered six scoreless to outpitch Arrieta. Hill snapped curveball after curveball and allowed only a pair of singles to Kris Bryant.
"It was the biggest game of my career," said Hill.
With Chicago's offense gone haywire, Hill struck out six and performed an amazing in-game turnaround after a bizarre 30-pitch second inning that manager Dave Roberts said nearly made him get the bullpen warmed up.
"He's had some abbreviated starts lately, so I really wanted to have him get an opportunity to work through it," said Roberts. "And I really didn't feel comfortable about pulling the plug on him tonight. So I wanted him to kind of work through it, like I said. And fortunately he did.
"Richie, it's interesting that the starts that I've seen him this year, it wasn't his best stuff. I think that curveball command wasn't as I know he would like it, but that just shows that he goes out there and competes. He still has a very good chance to get guys out."
A .100 hitter for his first 20 at-bats this postseason, the 27-homer version of Grandal reappeared by rocketing a two-run shot with two out in the fourth inning, battling back from 0-2 to slug a 3-2 pitch.
"That at-bat that he put, getting behind the count, fouling some pitches off, and getting a fastball in his nitro zone, and driving it out of the ballpark, obviously a huge at-bat," Roberts said.
"He had his struggles early on, but really had a great second half and put together a really nice year. The postseason, what he's done to our pitching staff, the starters, the guys in the 'pen, has been remarkable. And I just can't say enough about his growth."
Grandal hit a 93.2-mph fastball and sent it out at 107.8 mph, according to Statcast™, scoring Josh Reddick, who had reached on an infield single and stole second and third.
"The 3-2 to Grandal was a good pitch," Arrieta said. "I was challenging him in that situation, and it was a ball down and he put a good swing on it. ... It was a grind. They just outplayed us on both sides tonight."
Turner, who matched Grandal's 27 homers in the regular season, chased Arrieta by leading off the sixth inning with home run that had an exit velocity of 105 mph. The Dodgers have homered in all eight of their postseason games, matching the second-longest streak in Los Angeles franchise history.
Arrieta was charged with four runs on six hits in five-plus innings with six strikeouts, but the loss had more to do with the Cubs' sluggish bats.
"It happens," Arrieta said of the Cubs' offensive struggles. "It's not ideal to happen in the postseason in these sort of games, but these things are possible at any moment in any game. Our guys are prepared. When a guy makes good pitches like Rich did, along with their bullpen, it's going to be tough on us."
Clayton Kershaw and Hill, now lined up to start Games 6 and 7 in Chicago, if needed, started the back-to-back shutouts -- the first in club history in the postseason.
"I think if we look back to Clayton's game in Chicago, that's inspiring for all of us to look at," said Hill. "We can all do better by going out there and putting forth the best effort that we can every time we go out there. And we watch Clayton go out there and put everything out there on the line, and everybody feeds off of that."
Rookies combined for the Dodgers' first run in the third inning, the first of Corey Seager's three singles cashing in a leadoff single by Andrew Toles.
"Corey's a huge piece to what we're trying to get to. He's had some struggles recently, but every time he gets in the box, I expect something good to happen," Roberts said. "But today he got some good pitches against a very good pitcher. That two-out hit was huge to get us on the board."
Teams ahead 2-1 in best-of-seven postseason series have gone 94-38 overall and 38-11 in LCS play. Teams that have taken a 2-1 lead by winning Game 3 of a best-of-seven LCS have gone 24-9 and 12-7 when that Game 3 win came at home.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Maddening escape: The Cubs had an early chance to change the tone of Game 3 but couldn't capitalize. Hill slammed his glove on the bench when he reached the dugout after a 30-pitch second inning. It included two walks, a passed ball by catcher Grandal, two nearly errant pickoff attempts by Hill that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez saved and a stolen base by Anthony Rizzo, who had only three steals this season. Unfortunately for the Cubs, it also included zero runs.
"Riz needs to accept his walks, like he did [in the second inning]. And you'd like to believe that's going to get him going in the right direction, but we just couldn't," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The last two games, we've not been on the barrel of the bat at all. It's pretty much been weaker contact. We've got to get back to making the hard contact. We normally hit some home runs, we draw some walks, we will strike out. We're just not hitting the ball hard like we normally do."
Stealing some runs: The Dodgers stole three bases, two by Reddick after his infield single in the fourth inning, which Grandal followed one out later with his home run. Reddick is the first Dodgers player with two steals in a postseason game since Steve Sax in the 1988 NLCS. In the eighth, after Joc Pederson doubled home Yasiel Puig from first base, Pederson stole third to be in position to score on Grandal's groundout that was bobbled by shortstop Javier Baez.
Disappearing act: Maddon tweaked the lineup in hopes of more offense, inserting Jorge Soler and moving Baez up to fifth. But the team mustered four hits and now has been held scoreless in 18 consecutive innings, the longest postseason drought in team history. The previous record was 16, set in 1906. Their best chance to score came in the second, when they had Hill on the ropes. He struck out Addison Russell for the second out on what Bryant described as "the perfect curveball." The Cubs are the first team to suffer back-to-back shutouts in the same postseason since the 2012 Tigers in Games 2 and 3 of the World Series against the Giants.
California dreaming: The last time Arrieta pitched at Dodger Stadium, on Aug. 30, 2015, he threw his first career no-hitter. He didn't have the same success this time, giving up six hits -- including the homers by Grandal and Turner -- while striking out five. How rare is it for him to serve up home runs? Arrieta gave up two in a game four times in the regular season and 16 total in his 31 starts. He now has 38 career postseason strikeouts, which ties Kerry Wood for the club record.
"I thought he was in good shape," Maddon said of Arrieta going out for the sixth inning. "They got the one run with two outs, and the base hit by Seager, that's OK. The pitch to Grandal probably looked decent on the monitor, whatever, and of course Grandal's not been hitting the ball well, but then he grabs one right there."
"For me, it's about putting this one in the wastebasket, come back and play tomorrow. It's one day at a time. I've preached that all season long. We have a very good pitcher pitching [Wednesday]. If we're able to win that game, the narrative is going to change entirely. I can't get so dramatic about it. I just want our guys to come out and play our game and be a little more offensive and hopefully pitch like we normally do and catch the ball. It's obvious. We just have to hit the ball better, and we haven't done that." -- Maddon
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Until Tuesday's loss followed their 1-0 loss in Game 2, the last time the Cubs had been shut out in back-to-back games was May 27-28, 2014, by the Giants.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Dodgers challenged a seventh-inning call by first-base umpire Angel Hernandez, who ruled Chris Coghlan safe on a head-first dive ahead of Gonzalez stepping on the first-base bag. The call was overturned on review and Coghlan was out.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:John Lackey will make his second start of this postseason on Wednesday in Game 4. This will be his 21st career postseason start, most among active pitchers. He did not get a decision in his Game 4 outing in the NL Division Series against the Giants, giving up three runs on seven hits over four innings. The right-hander did face the Dodgers in the postseason in the 2014 NLDS and got the win for the Cardinals.
Dodgers: At 20 years and 68 days old, Julio Urias will become the youngest starting pitcher in MLB postseason history when he takes the ball Wednesday for Game 4 at Dodger Stadium. Urias turned in two scoreless innings of relief against the Nationals in the decisive Game 5 clincher of the NLDS. This will be only his second start since Sept. 13, so he's likely to be on a very short leash.