By HAL McCOY
When the Chicago Cubs win a game at home in Wrigley Field, fans leave the park singing a catchy tune called, “Go Cubs Go.”
They weren’t singing that song Tuesday night. Maybe they should have been singing one of the two tunes sung by huge Cubs fan Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam — “Long Nights” and/or “End of the Road.”
The Cubs, trying to defend last year’s World Series championship, lost Tuesday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-1.
That’s three long nights for the Cubs and they are near the end of the road. That’s three straight losses to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, one loss away from elimination. Or, in this case, obliteration.
Down three games to none, the Cubs have to win four straight or go home while the Dodgers have four tries to win just one more game to qualify for the World Series.
This one mostly belonged to LA pitcher Yu Darvish, obtained mid-season from the Texas Rangers. Darvish gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, Middletown’s Kyle Schwarber, and that was it. Nothing more. Close the book and stick it on a shelf.
Darvish gave up no more runs, only five more hits and a walk and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. Just to rub it in, he drew a bases loaded walk against Carl Edwards Jr., to drive in the Dodgers’ fourth run.
After Schwarber’s home run, the Cubs also received singles from Kris Bryant and Willson Contrera, but Darvish struck out Jon Jay on three pitches.
So three of the six hits off Darvish came in the first inning and the Cubs never threatened again. Darvish faced one hitter in the seventh, struck him out, and left the game after only 81 pitches.
The Cubs 1-0 lead only lasted until the Dodgers came to bat in the top of the second and Andre Ethier, making his first start of the post-season, lined a home run deep into the right field bleachers to tie it, 1-1.
And the tie only lasted until the top of the third when Chris Taylor homered over the center field wall against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks to make it 2-1.
Another Dodger making his first post-season start, Joc Pederson, led the fifth with a double and scored on Chris Taylor’s triple into the left field corner for a 3-1 LA lead.
Relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. was on the mound in the sixth and the first batter, Yasiel Puig reached on third baseman Kris Bryant’s error. Ethier singled and with one out Barnes walked to fill the bases.
But with two outs Edwards was facing pitcher Yu Darvish, who never in his career had batted with the bases loaded and as mostly an American Leaguer had not batted much at all.
Amazingly, with Darvish standing at the plate like a cigar star Native American statue, Edwards threw four straight balls for the walk that forced in the fourth run.
The Cubs bullpen has been nothing but a walk around the park so far in the postseason, issuing 23 walks in eight postseason games.
The Dodgers put salt on this one in the eighth by scoring two runs, the first on a strikeout/passed ball on catcher Willson Contreras and a sacrifice fly.
After Darvish left, the potent and practically peerless bullpen did its thing — no runs the rest of the way. In 11 innings of work in the three games against the Cubs, the LA bullpen has given up no runs and two hits (both in the ninth inning Tuesday) while striking out 12 and walking just one. And the Cubs are 2 for 33 against the Dodgers bullpen.
Meanwhile, over in the American League the New York Yankees, who play in Yankee Stadium like the old Bronx Bombers of the 1960s, won their second straight game at home against the Houston Astros Monday afternoon, to even the ALCS at two games apiece.
The Astros led, 4-0, and the Yankees had no runs and only one hit off starter Lance McCullers Jr. after six innings. But when Aaron Judge homered to open the seventh Houston manager A.J. Hinch removed McCullers.
And the Astros bullpen suffered a meltdown, mostly by closer Ken Giles who came into the game in the eighth when it was 4-4 and gave up two runs three hits and a walk.