Manager Grady Little has shut down his rookie catalyst, Andre Ethier, who has been in free-fall the entire month of September, and with a strikeout to end the game, is 1-for-19 (.053) on the road trip and 4-for-29 (.183), perhaps putting an unrepairable dent in his bid for National League Rookie of the Year honors.
Wilson Betemit, who was hitting .424 since August 28, has been superb but the rest of the lineup seems to lack the punch they demonstrated over the past six weeks.
Russell Martin is the only rookie position player in the lineup, although Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton, rookies both, are still performing well as is Takashi Saito, who is a rookie in America but a 14-year veteran of the Japanese leagues. Rookie Chad Billingsley has recovered from a muscle pull and will start Saturday against the Padres.
Kuo had another fine start, allowing only two runs over six innings and departing with a 5-2 lead. He did allow seven hits but was tough with men on base, fanning six.
Chicago starter, Wade Miller, who spent most of the season on the disabled list, allowed just one hit in five innings but it was a screaming shot off the right field foul pole by Marlon Anderson with J.D. Drew on base with a walk in the second.
The Cubs tied in the fourth when Angel Pagan lined a two-run triple into right-center with one out. Kuo got Henry Blanco to ground to third and Wilson Betemit threw Pagan out at the plate, then Kuo fanned Fred Bynum to end the inning.
Held to four hits, the Dodgers got three of them in the sixth inning. Kenny Lofton beat out a bunt, and was struck in the back of the helmet by the pitcher's throw. Nomar Garciaparra singled sharply to right field and Drew lined an outside pitch into the left-field seats for a 5-2 Dodger lead.
Kuo finished the bottom of the inning in 1-2-3 fashion and manager Grady Little called on Brett Tomko to work the seventh.
After getting an easy fly to center, Ron Cedeno slashed a shot at Jeff Kent and the ball ate him up, glancing on into right field. After a strikeout, Juan Pierre beat out his second infield hit of the game and Ryan Theroit grounded a ball into right field to score Pierre.
The Armis Ramirez nailed a high fastball and dumped his 33rd home run of the year into the left field seats for a three-run homer that struck the Dodgers like an arrow to the chest.
Jonathan Broxton came in to pitch a scoreless eighth but it really didn't matter because, as has happened so often recently, the Los Angeles offense went into a catatonic trance with the last 12 hitters going out peacefully with a pair of harmless walks mixed in.
Counting the three-run homer by Kent, the Cubs bullpen allowed only three runs in 16 innings during the series, for a sparkling 1.69 earned run average.
So the Dodgers fly home to meet the Padres, who have won 11 of 14 from them so far this season in the first certifiable "must win" series of the season.
Starters for the first three games include: Greg Maddux against David Wells on Friday; Chad Billingsley vs Woody Williams on Saturday and Derek Lowe vs. Clay Young on Sunday.
Score by innings Dodgers 020 003 000-5 4 0 Cubs 000 200 40x-6 11 0 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal SS 4 0 0 0 .296 Lofton CF 4 1 1 0 .302 Garciaparra 1B 4 1 1 0 .308 Drew RF 2 2 1 3 .276 Kent 2B 4 0 0 0 .277 Betemit 3B 2 0 0 0 .270 Saenz PH 1 0 0 0 .289 Martinez 3B 0 0 0 0 .284 Anderson LF 2 1 1 2 .281 Martin C 4 0 0 0 .288 Kuo P 1 0 0 0 .000 Lugo PH 1 0 0 0 .220 Tomko P 0 0 0 0 .120 Broxton P 0 0 0 0 .000 Ethier PH 1 0 0 0 .320 Totals 30 5 4 5 Cubs 34 6 11 6 HR: J Drew (16), Anderson (7). RBI: Drew 3 (85), Anderson 2 (28). LOB: Dodgers 4, Cubs 4. Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Kuo 6.0 7 2-2 0 6 4.25 Tomko (8-7) 1.0 4 4-4 0 1 5.00 Broxton 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 2.55 T- 2:39 Att- 31,361Dodger Blue Notes-- Kenny Lofton's leadoff hit in the sixth came on the 15th anniversary of his major league debut. He broke in with the Astros on Sept. 14, 1991. ... Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, now a special adviser to the chairman, led the singing during the seventh-inning stretch. He was a little off key, as was the Dodger offense. ... Brett Tomko got his 1,000th major league strikeout by fanning pinch-hitter Jacque Jones for the second out of the seventh, then allowed four runs and was tagged with the loss.