Dodgers Come Home with 2-0 Lead

The Dodgers ran up a 10-1 lead, with a good deal of help from the Cubs, and packed away a 2-0 margin in the National League Division Series for their trip home to Los Angeles. Chad Billingsley took a two-hitter into the seventh inning. Chicago tied the NLDS record with four errors, causing starting pitcher Victor Zambrano and 42,136 Chicago fans muttering as they left the game.

The surprising Dodgers, who averaged 4.3 runs per game over the regular season, posted another five run inning, this time in the second, to capture the momentum in the game. They rally was keyed by a three-run double from Russell Martin. The Cubs fumbled two consecutive double play balls to keep the inning alive and it cost them four unearned runs.

After watching Chicago pitchers walk eight in the first game of the series, the capacity crowd looked on in disbelief -- and no little anger -- at the Chicago infield's four errors in the game.

Los Angeles took advantage of the unintended gifts and added 13 hits to take all the suspense out of the contest early on.

Billingsley, working on eight days rest, was splendid, allowing a leadoff single to Alfonso Soriano and a second hit until Derrek Lee leading off the fourth inning.

The 24-year-old right hander left the game with one out in the seventh having allowed five hits, walked one and struck out seven. A three-hit flurry drove him to cover and Chicago collected their first run of the night before he departed.

By that time the Dodgers had a comfortable 7-0 lead that increased to 10-1 in the ninth. The Cubs wouldn't go quietly, scoring twice and knocking Takashi Saito out of the game before Jonathan Broxton relieved for the second night in a row to close out the game.

Zambrano had no trouble with the Dodgers in the first inning, exciting he crowd, but Andre Ethier singled to lead off the second and manager Joe Torre surprised everyone with a hit-and-run play.

With Ethier on the go, James Loney slapped a single into the hole between short and second that Cub shortstop Ryan Theriot, who was covering second, could only slow down with his bare hand. The ball rolled into short left field and Ethier ended up on third.

Then, on successive plays, the Cubs messed up a pair of double play balls that would have ended the inning with nothing on the board for Los Angeles.

Mark DeRosa fumbled a hard ground ball hit by Blake DeWitt, then pulled Theriot off second base with his hasty throw as Ethier scored. Casey Blake then smashed a shot on the ground to Derrek Lee at first and the ball bounced off his glove and spun away, leaving the bases loaded.

Zambrano struck out Billingsley for the second out of the inning and it looked as if the Cubs might get out of the mess with only with a single run scoring.

But then Rafael Furcal, hitless in the series, shocked the Cubs with a push bunt to the left of the pitcher's mound. Theriot made a good play on the ball but the speedy Furcal beat it out for an RBI single.

Martin then had the key hit of the game, a shot that rolled to the wall in left-center field, scoring all three runners and putting the Dodgers up by five runs.

"We're playing the same type of baseball that we played all September," said Martin after the game. "We peaked at the right time. We had to battle to get to the point we're at, and it's not time to stop yet."

In the fifth, Manny Ramirez, who struck out on his first two trips to the plate, nailed a Zambrano slider and deposited it some 450-feet into center field. It was his second mammoth homer of the series and his 26th career post-season dinger, extending his own record.

A rightfully frustrated Zambrano left in the seventh inning to a standing ovation after walking Ramirez with his 108th pitch of he game. Neal Cotts took over and surrendered a two-out double into the right field corner by Matt Kemp to drive in Ramirez.

Chicago used a two-out double by DeRosa and another by Jim Edmonds into center field to get on the scoreboard in the last of the seventh. Kemp went back to the wall and jumped into the ivy and for a moment it looked as if he had caught the ball but both he and the ball came off the wall in different directions as DeRosa scored.

A single to left by Giovanni Soto ended Billingsley's night and put runners on first and third but the ubiquitous Cody Wade ended the inning by getting Kosuke Furkdome to bounce into a force play.

Singles by Blake, Furcal and Ramirez drove in two more runs off Carlos Marmol in the eighth, then third baseman Aramis Ramirez fumbled a ball hit by Juan Pierre, completing an infield cycle that tagged each of the Cub fielders with an error. Blake's single scored Pierre with the fourth unearned Cubs run, to make it 10-1 going into the last of the ninth.

Takashi Saito came in to close things out in the bottom of the inning but Lee doubled, Ramirez singled and DeRosa rewarded the large crowd, that for the most part stayed to the bitter end, when he knocked in his third and fourth run of the series with a double over Kemp's head in center field.

The Dodgers sent Greg Maddux and Clayton Kershaw to the bullpen to warm up but chose Jonathan Broxton instead. He allowed a walk but then retired the next three Cubs in order, striking out the last two to end the game.

Ramirez was delighted with the win but, as did the other Dodgers, realized that the Cubs weren't going to go away without a struggle. "We're going to L.A., we need one more win. We're not there yet," Manny said. "They're the best team in the National League and anything could happen."

Cubs manager Lou Pinella wasn't nearly as happy. "It wasn't good baseball. In fact, the last two days, that's probably been the two worst games we've played all year," he said. "It wasn't fun to watch, I'll tell you that."

Chicago became the 23rd major league team to lose the first two games at home in a best-of-five playoff series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only one has come back to win -— the 2001 New York Yankees against Oakland. That Yankees team was managed by Joe Torre, now guiding the Dodgers' fortunes.

"When you give extra outs, chances are they're going to be capitalized on, and that's what we were able to do," Torre said.

After an off day today, The series switches to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 on Saturday night. Chicago's Rich Harden will face Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched a four-hit shutout against the Cubs in Los Angeles on June 6.

The large Japanese media contingent will not get to see Fukudome face Kuroda Saturday in game 3. When Lou Piniella was asked after the game about Fukudome, who is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts in the first two games, he said, "From now on, I don't want to hear about Fukudome anymore as far as whether he is going to play or not. I'm going to play Mike Fontenot and Reed Johnson or somebody else, and that's the end of the story. The kid is struggling, and there is no sense sending him out there anymore."

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	050 010 121-10
Chicago	        000 000 102-03

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	6  2  3  2  .333
Martin c	5  0  1  3  .222
Ramirez lf	4  2  2  2  .500
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Ethier rf	3  1  1  0  .167
Loney 1b	5  1  1  0  .200
Kemp cf	        5  0  1  1  .222
DeWitt 2b	4  1  0  1  .250
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph-lf	1  0  0  0  .000
Blake 3b	4  2  2  1  .375
Billingsley p	3  0  0  0  .000
 Berroa 2b	1  0  1  0 1.000
  Totals	41 10 12 10
  Chicago	34  3  8  3

 Two base hits- Martin (1), Kemp (2), HR- Ramirez 
(2). RBI DeWitt (1), Furcal  (2), Martin 3 (4), 
Ramirez 2 (3), Kemp (1), Blake (2), S- Berroa. 
LOB- Los Angeles 9, Chicago 6. DP- Furcal, DeWitt 
and Loney.

 Los Angeles	  in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (1-0) 6.2  5  1-1  1  7  1.35
Wade        	  1.1  0  0-0  0  0  0.00
Saito        	  0.0  3  2-2  0  0  -.--
Broxton        	  1.0  0  0-0  1  2  0.00
 WP- Billingsley. HBP- Blake. T-3:10. 
Att- 42,136.

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