Dodgers elated, but NLDS sweep 'just a step'

Dodgers elated, but NLDS sweep 'just a step'

PHOENIX -- With mounted police making an imposing stand on the warning track, the D-backs made sure the Dodgers couldn't get into the Chase Field swimming pool, but they couldn't keep them out of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World.

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"This is just a step, but we're going to celebrate and then get ready for the next one," said president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, whose team couldn't have more precisely executed a gameplan designed to exploit the D-backs' weaknesses en route to Monday night's 3-1 win and a sweep of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile.

Game Date Results Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 LAD 9, ARI 5 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 7 LAD 8, ARI 5 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 9 LAD 3, ARI 1 Watch

They jumped on Taijuan Walker in the first inning of the first game, took advantage of Robbie Ray pitching on two days' rest in the second game and worked the counts relentlessly on former teammate Zack Greinke in the clincher.

"Those were the best three games of offense in a row I've ever seen in a playoff situation," said general manager Farhan Zaidi. "We grinded at-bats, drove up pitch counts and made their pitchers work."

NLCS Game 1: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on TBS

Justin Turner, who owns the highest career average in the division series at .456, went 6-for-13 with five RBIs. Yasiel Puig, a reserve in last year's postseason, was 5-for-11 with four RBIs. Austin Barnes was 4-for-8 with a home run, double, three RBIs and four runs scored. Logan Forsythe, after a disappointing regular season, was 4-for-9 with four runs scored.

"You look at the three games in the series, and they're all team wins," said manager Dave Roberts. "Guys in certain roles, now relegated to certain roles, like Kenta Maeda, Austin Barnes, a different role, and Tony Cingrani to get a lefty out, the at-bat quality that we had tonight against Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray the other night, was special. It really was. From the first pitch there was a plan in place, and we executed. Our guys, the hitting coaches did a great job preparing the guys, and we were relentless every single pitch, and really made Zack labor."

Roberts on advancing to the NLCS

The Dodgers rode closer Kenley Jansen for a five-out save in Game 2 and a nail-biting finish Monday night when the game ended with Jansen striking out Paul Goldschmidt representing the tying run. Roberts took the five-plus innings he got from Yu Darvish and then deftly maneuvered a bullpen, bolstered by Maeda, to get the ball to Jansen.

"I think we all take it for granted, I know I do, you just assume it's the eighth or ninth inning and the game's over," admitted Game 1 winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw. "We take it for granted, I know I do. Kenley's the best in the game and we're going to ride it."

Having dispatched an Arizona team that finished 10 games behind them in the NL West, the Dodgers should expect a tougher battle in the NLCS, a rematch of last year's NLCS against the Cubs, which the Dodgers lost.

"There is no preference," Roberts said diplomatically. "Both clubs are very good, very talented. So we're going to have our hands full. We're going to get back, celebrate tonight, get back home, and prepare for whatever team advances. But they're both great ballclubs, managed well."

But the Dodgers came into this season talking about unfinished business, a theme repeated when Turner, Jansen and Rich Hill re-signed with the club as free agents.

"We said since day one in the press conference, we signed to bring a championship back to L.A.," said Turner. "The first step is out of the way."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.