The Los Angeles Dodgers went into Game 6 of the National League Championship Series needing Clayton Kershaw to turn in a vintage outing against a surging Chicago Cubs team.
Kershaw wasn’t quite able to live up to his end of the bargain, and the Dodgers did little to help his cause. Starting in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, Andrew Toles lined the first pitch he saw into right field for a single.
Corey Seager grounded into a 4-3 double play, and Kyle Hendricks retired Justin Turner to end a scoreless inning.
After managing just two hits off Kershaw over seven innings in Game 2, the Cubs matched that total two batters into the bottom of the first.
A Dexter Fowler bloop, ground-rule double in shallow right field was followed by a Kris Bryant RBI single. Anthony Rizzo hit a slicing fly ball to the left-center field gap, which Toles inexplicably dropped.
Ben Zobrist cashed in on the two-base error, with his sacrifice fly extending the Cubs’ lead to 2-0. Kershaw did manage to stop the bleeding but at a costly 30 pitches.
Josh Reddick reached on a Javier Baez error with one out in the second inning. However, nothing came of it, as Hendricks picked him off to end the inning.
Kershaw missed his location with a slider, resulting in an Addison Russell leadoff double in the bottom of the second. Fowler pulled a two-out, RBI single into left, though was caught in a rundown on the play.
Rizzo doubled with one out in the bottom of the third, advanced to third base on a sacrifice fly, and was stranded as Baez struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Hendricks set the Dodgers down in order in the fourth and faced the minimum up to that point.
Willson Contreras padded the Cubs’ lead in the bottom of the fourth on a line-drive solo home run. Rizzo did the same, also with two outs, in the fifth inning. That was all for Kershaw, who was pinch-hit for in the sixth.
Kenley Jansen gave the Dodgers three scoreless innings but the impact was minimal, if not nonexistent. Henricks breezed through the sixth and seventh, and was removed after allowing a one-out single to Reddick in the eighth.
The hit was the first Hendricks allowed since the first inning, and Reddick was the Dodgers’ first baserunner since he reached on Baez’s error in second. Symbolic of how the past three games had gone for the Dodgers, Howie Kendrick hit a one-hopper to Baez for an inning-ending double play.
Aroldis Chapman remained in the game in the ninth and worked around a one-out walk to send the Cubs to their first World Series since 1945. Meanwhile, the Dodgers set an MLB record for most consecutive postseason trips without reaching a World Series.
Chicago will face the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Progressive Field on Tuesday. Complete 2016 World Series schedule and TV information.