Jhoulys Chacin, 4 relievers combine for shutout
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers know they can count on their intimidating bullpen to get outs. They may not have been expecting a twice-demoted shortstop to generate so much offense.
Jhoulys Chacin combined with four relievers on a five-hitter and Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer in a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday that gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.
Los Angeles loaded the bases against Jeremy Jeffress in the ninth inning, but the struggling closer shut the door. He struck out Yasmani Grandal and pinch-hitter Brian Dozier to complete Milwaukee’s third shutout in six playoff games this year.
“We feel like we’re in really good shape,” manager Craig Counsell said.
Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, with Rich Hill starting for Los Angeles against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez.
Ryan Braun had an early RBI double off rookie Walker Buehler, who struck out eight in seven innings. Travis Shaw tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.
Arcia connected for his third postseason homer in the seventh, his second in two games.
“It’s a different guy every single day and we’ve got contributions up and down the roster,” Shaw said. “It’s been the story of our season.”
Chacin scattered three hits over 5 1/3 innings before giving way to Corey Knebel, who worked 1 2/3 perfect innings and struck out his last four batters.
With a runner on second and the Brewers nursing a 2-0 lead, Knebel got Manny Machado to ground out before whiffing Cody Bellinger to end the sixth. The right-hander then fanned Yasiel Puig, Grandal and Enrique Hernandez in the seventh.
Joakim Soria retired Chris Taylor on a foul popup for the first out of the eighth. Josh Hader, who didn’t pitch in Game 2 after tossing three scoreless innings in the opener, needed only eight pitches to strike out pinch-hitters David Freese and Matt Kemp to end the eighth.
“It was good that we only used Hader for two outs,” Shaw said. “I know we’ve got three in a row, so he’ll be good to go tomorrow and that’s a big thing for us.”
Hader rarely pitches on consecutive days, but his light workload Monday could give Counsell some options.
“We’re playing to win the series, not just games. Obviously with Josh doing not as much tonight, there’s lots of possibilities there going forward,” he said.
Justin Turner singled and Machado doubled to start the ninth for Los Angeles. Bellinger popped out and slammed his bat before Puig drew a walk, but Counsell stayed with Jeffress, who settled down and came through.
Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen delivered after the Dodgers hit .333 and scored eight of their nine runs against Brewers relievers during the first two games in Milwaukee, both decided by one run.
The Dodgers also came up empty against Chacin with the bases loaded in the second, when Buehler took a called third strike to end the inning.
“We had the right guys in those moments and we just didn’t execute,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.”
The Brewers became the first visiting team to pitch a postseason shutout at Dodger Stadium since the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the 1983 NLCS. Los Angeles had gone 50 consecutive home playoff games without being blanked, the second-longest streak in major league history behind 61 straight for the Boston Red Sox, according to STATS.
The 1905 New York Giants and 1966 Baltimore Orioles were the only other teams to toss three shutouts in their first six games of a postseason, STATS said.
The Brewers entered these playoffs with one shutout in their postseason history.
“Our guys that we’re giving the ball to at the start of the game, they’re doing a heck of a job, man,” Counsell said. “They’re setting the tone, really.”
Chacin returned to the scene of the Brewers’ worst loss of the season, a 21-5 rout on Aug. 2. In that game, he was charged with nine runs — eight earned — and five hits, including a grand slam by Bellinger.
Chacin was much better when it counted most. The right-hander struck out six and walked two while outpitching Buehler.
“I’ve been ready for this for almost 10 years,” Chacin said. “Hopefully I get a chance to be in the World Series.”
Milwaukee got to Buehler in the first on Braun’s double into the left-field corner that scored Christian Yelich, who walked.
The Brewers struck again in the sixth. Bellinger was slow to chase Shaw’s triple off the top of the center-field wall and missed making the catch by inches before the ball caromed away.
Shaw scored on Buehler’s wild pitch to Jesus Aguilar. The ball bounced off Grandal, who scrambled after it near the third-base line while Shaw ran to the plate, making it 2-0.
In the seventh, Erik Kratz doubled and Arcia followed with a two-run shot to right field.
“Orlando has always been a guy that you want to put a moment on him, put pressure on him,” Counsell said. “Put the spotlight on him. He loves it. And I’m not surprised that he’s thriving in playoff atmosphere. He has this love and he’s wired the right way for this kind of baseball.”
Puig chased the ball as it drifted into the lower right-field seats on a night when the first Santa Ana winds of the fall arrived, buffeting the stadium with cool, sustained gusts for most of the game.
It was the latest big hit in October for Arcia, the talented young shortstop who was sent to the minors twice this season as he slumped at the plate. He has three home runs in 20 playoff at-bats, matching his total in 348 at-bats all season.
“Definitely a lot of downs for me and things weren’t going my way, so they sent me down,” Arcia said through a translator. “I was able to work on stuff, recognize pitches, especially breaking balls. Now I (make) my adjustments and things have been working better.”
Buehler gave up five hits and a walk in the longest outing by a Dodgers starter during the series so far.
The 14 strikeouts by Brewers pitchers set a franchise postseason record, topping the old mark of 13 in Game 1 of this year’s NLCS and Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS against Arizona.
NEVER TOO LATE
Kratz’s double gave him six hits in the postseason, making him the first player to make his playoff debut at age 38 or older and get six or more hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
NO GOOD LATE
After going 13 for 28 in the seventh inning or later during the first two games of the NLCS, when they scored eight of their nine runs, the Dodgers were just 2 of 11 with seven strikeouts Monday.
Brewers: Gonzalez will go on three days’ rest after throwing only two innings in the series opener last Friday.
Dodgers: Hill is 1-2 with a 3.55 ERA in nine career postseason starts. He started Game 4 of the Division Series in Atlanta, allowing two runs and five walks in 4 1/3 innings, but didn’t factor in the decision.
By Beth Harris of the Associated Press.