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Baseball: Win over Cubs puts Dodgers on brink of World Series berth

Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs hits a home run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game three of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 17, 2017. (AFP)
CHICAGO: Chris Taylor homered and drove in two runs, and Yu Darvish pitched six-plus strong innings Tuesday as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 to move within one win of a World Series return.
The Dodgers, whose 1988 championship marked their last appearance in Major League Baseball’s title showcase, took a commanding 3-0 lead over the reigning World Series champion Cubs in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
They’ll try to complete the sweep on Wednesday in Chicago.
Darvish struck out seven and scattered six hits and walked just one over 6 1/3 innings. He also drove in a run when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth frame.
“The story of the night, obviously, is Yu Darvish,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “After that first homer that he gave up ... he was dominant. He just had that rhythm, the poise and didn’t allow whole lot of hard contact.”
The Cubs, who hadn’t managed a hit off the Dodgers bullpen in the series, put runners on second and third in the ninth inning when Alex Avila singled and Albert Almora followed with a double off of right-handed relief pitcher Ross Stripling.
But Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got Addison Russell to pop out to first, and then struck out Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ to close out the victory.
The Cubs seized an early lead for the third straight game when Kyle Schwarber homered off of Darvish with one out in the first inning.
The Cubs got hits from three of their first five batters, but couldn’t add to their lead and stranded two runners on base after Schwarber’s home run.
“I really didn’t change much approach-wise from first inning until the end of the game,” Darvish said. “I just kept pitching the same way.”
The Dodgers responded in the second inning. Andre Ethier pulled them level with a solo homer on the first pitch he saw from Kyle Hendricks.
Taylor broke the 1-1 tie in the third inning with a 444-foot solo home run to center field.
Hendricks, who struggled with his command, allowed at least two home runs for the second consecutive post-season start.
Taylor put the Dodgers up 3-1 with a fifth-inning run-scoring triple that scored Joc Pederson, who led off the inning with a double.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the sixth and after getting Pederson to fly out for the second out of the inning, Cubs reliever Carl Edwards walked Darvish on four pitches to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 4-1.
Los Angeles tacked on two runs in the eighth. After a walk to Logan Forsythe and a Barnes single, Forsythe scored when reliever Mike Montgomery’s pitch bounced off the arm of catcher Willson Contreras. Barnes reached third base and then scored on Kyle Farmer’s sacrifice fly.
The winner of the series will face either the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in the World Series starting next Tuesday.
The Yankees and Astros were tied 2-2 in their American League Championship Series after New York’s 6-4 home win on Tuesday.
Taylor said the Dodgers weren’t thinking World Series just yet.
“Obviously we’re excited to be up 3-0, but honestly, we’ve just been taking it one game at a time and just focusing on getting one win,” he said. “So we’ll come in with the same mindset and focus on getting that one win.”

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