2016 NLCS: Dodgers, Cubs Lone Postseason Meeting Came In 2008 NLDS

After facing the Washington Nationals franchise in the playoffs for only the second time, the Los Angeles Dodgers share the same limited postseason history with the Chicago Cubs. Including the 2016 National League Championship Series, the two clubs have now met just twice in the playoffs.

The first head-to-head meeting for meaningful baseball in October came in the 2008 NL Division Series. Sparked by the trade to acquire Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers finished with an 84-78 record; two games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the NL West title.

It marked the Dodgers’ third trip to the playoffs in five seasons, but they faced a daunting challenge.

Chicago went an NL-best 97-64 to finish 7.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers, who were the Wild Card team under the previous format than the current one that’s in place.

The Cubs were the prohibitive favorite heading into the 2008 NLDS. But they couldn’t get out of their own way and ran into a buzzsaw of an offense led by Manny Ramirez.

In Game 1, played Oct. 1, 2008, at Wrigley Field, the Dodgers overcame and early deficit and pounded the Cubs for a 7-2 victory. James Loney’s grand slam gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Ryan Dempster walked the bases loaded and gave up the big blast on a 1-2 pitch.

Russell Martin and Ramirez also homered in the series opener, contributing to the Dodgers scoring one run in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. For Ramirez, it was his 25th home run in the postseason, which extended his own record.

Derek Lowe allowed two runs in six innings, on a Mark DeRosa home run, and he was backed by a trio of Dodgers relievers who each threw one scoreless frame.

Prior to their Game 1 win, the Dodgers last started a postseason series with a victory in the 1988 World Series — better known as the night Kirk Gibson did the impossible.

The Dodgers rode their momentum into Game 2 for an even more resounding victory, aided by the Cubs committing four errors — one by each infielder. Ramirez hit his 26th career postseason home run, Rafael Furcal chipped in with two RBI, and Martin led the team that evening with three RBI.

Chad Billingsley had seven strikeouts and allowed one run in 6.2 innings, and the Dodgers cruised to a 10-3 win to take a commanding series lead.

Game 3 was a closer contest, though the Cubs faltered and were swept. Loney’s two-out, two-run double gave Hiroki Kuroda a 2-0 lead to work with after the first inning.

Kuroda turned in 6.1 shutout innings and the Dodgers defeated the Cubs, 3-1. Ramirez finished the NLDS 5-for-10 with two home runs and three RBI. The sweep gave Dodgers manager Joe Torre 79 postseason wins — the most in MLB history. Torre finished with 84 such victories in his career.

The series win was the Dodgers’ first in 20 years and their first sweep in 45 years. Los Angeles had their October run come to an end at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies, who won the 2008 NLCS in five games.

Of the players who participated in the 2008 NLDS, only Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw remain with the Dodgers.