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Cubs up to task of coming back in LA

Cubs up to task of coming back

LOS ANGELES -- No more talking. No more "do or die," or counting how many years it's been.

The Cubs face elimination and another postseason sweep if they lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Saturday.

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"This is not time for words anymore," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said Friday. "This is time to go out on the field and play to the best of your ability and relax and get the job done. That's it."

Expect a different look for the Cubs. Mark DeRosa will start in right field and Mike Fontenot at second base when the best-of-five series against Los Angeles shifts to Dodger Stadium. That means Kosuke Fukudome, who has batted .217 since the All-Star break, is the odd man out.

"Let's not worry about Fukudome now," Piniella said of the Japanese outfielder, who is 0-for-7 with three strikeouts in the two games. "Let's worry about the team and what's best for the team."

The best possible scenario for the Cubs would be to win the next three games and erase the Dodgers' 2-0 lead in the NLDS. They began the process during the long flight to California on Friday.

"I think the day off for us was good," DeRosa said. "It's a long travel day but at the same time, guys were able to relax on the plane, play some cards, laugh, have some fun together. You can take your mind off it for a minute.

"We're fully expecting to win two games out here and bring it back to Chicago. That's the mind-set we have and that's the mind-set we'll continue to have until proven otherwise. We've put ourselves at a huge disadvantage, but I like our pitching staff."

Rich Harden, who was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts with the Cubs after being acquired from the Oakland Athletics, will get the start Saturday against Hiroki Kuroda, who was 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA. This year, Harden was 3-1 following his team's losses between the Cubs and A's.

It may help to be 2,000 miles from Chicago. The Cubs have been reminded all season that this is the 100th year since they last won a World Series, and it's become a sore subject with Piniella. If this were the 98th year, or the 108th year, he probably wouldn't get asked as much. One hundred is a nice round number. Joe Torre can relate.

Cubs Down, Not Out
Only once has a club lost the first two games of a Division Series at home and come back to win it. The New York Yankees rallied from an 0-2 deficit against the Oakland Athletics in the 2001 ALDS.
GTeamsScoreWPLP
1Oak @ NYL, 5-2MulderClemens
2Oak @ NYL, 2-0HudsonPettitte
3NY @ OakW, 1-0MussinaZito
4NY @ OakW, 9-2HernandezLidle
5Oak @ NYW, 5-3ClemensMulder

"I'm a believer that in postseason, when you play at home, there's a lot of pressure on you to play well and win," the Dodgers manager said. "You're supposed to win. I think we have that on us right now, especially winning the last two games.

"But in the Cubs' case, there are some similarities to Boston where it's sort of like, 'Oh, here we go again,' or that type of mentality. To me, I think that gets overdone."

The hometown fans showed their displeasure in the Cubs' first two games. Maybe it's good to get away from the "doom and gloom" at Wrigley Field.

"I don't know about gloom and doom," Piniella said. "We just didn't play very well. It's the two worst games we've had back-to-back in the two years I've been here. The fans want us to win. It's obvious. We want the same thing."

Speaking of words, he did his best to keep the players' spirits up after the game but his message apparently was misinterpreted. There was talk on a Chicago sports radio station Friday that Piniella had yelled at some of the Latin players in Spanish after the game. The reporter who relayed that information apparently didn't understand what Piniella was saying. He was giving them a pep talk and delivered the same message in English to some of the players in the trainer's room.

GAME 3: JUST THE FACTS
Dodger Stadium, Saturday, 9 p.m. CT
Cubs starter: RHP Rich Harden
2008: 10-2, 2.07 ERA (OAK and CHC)
2008 on road: 5-2, 2.50 ERA
2008 vs. Dodgers: No record
Career vs. Dodgers: No record
Career postseason: 1-2, 6.43 ERA
Dodgers starter: RHP Hiroki Kuroda
2008: 9-10, 3.73 ERA
2008 at home: 6-2, 3.68 ERA
2008 vs. Cubs: 1-1, 0.59 ERA
Career vs. Cubs: 1-1, 0.59 ERA
Career postseason: First appearance
Dodgers lead series, 2-0. No team in the Wild Card era has won a National League Division Series after trailing 2-0.
Game 1: Dodgers 7, Cubs 2
Game 2: Dodgers 10, Cubs 3
Did you know? Kuroda will be the fourth Japanese-born pitcher to start a playoff game in Major League history, joining Hideo Nomo, Masato Yoshii and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

"Nobody yelled at people in Spanish," Piniella said. "I don't even know what you're talking about. I talk to the players in Spanish all the time. But I didn't yell at them."

There was no yelling or screaming at Friday's workout, which was voluntary and attended by nearly all 25 players. There were some other minor changes: Ryan Dempster shaved his beard.

"I had to do something," Dempster said.

The right-hander, who walked seven in Game 1, will be in the bullpen on Saturday to back up Harden if needed. Ted Lilly is slated to start Game 4 on Sunday if the Cubs can extend the series. Dempster would go Tuesday in Game 5.

Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in the NLDS are a perfect 16-0, and have swept the series 13 times. However, in the history of five-game series, including League Championship Series, seven teams have rallied to win after dropping the first two games.

"I want to give Ryan another opportunity to get back on Wrigley Field," DeRosa said. "These two games have been brutal. I said yesterday we were the best team in the National League in the marathon, but that goes out the window. We have to win a sprint now. We've put ourselves in a big hole but not insurmountable by any means."

DeRosa sounded confident but not as much as Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol.

"We're going to win tomorrow," Marmol said. "We have to win. That's what we play for. We're going to bring the series to Chicago."

They've got to generate some offense. During the 2007 NLDS against Arizona, the Cubs batted .194 and were swept in the series. So far in this series, they've been outscored 17-5 and were batting .222. Committing four errors on Thursday didn't help.

"For us to get back in this thing, we're going to have to play good defense and we're going to have to pitch," Piniella said.

"Our mind-set is we're down two games and we have to win," Chicago shortstop Ryan Theriot said. "The reality is we got beat in our house and we have to regroup. It'll be a big challenge for us, but we're more than capable."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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