Corey Seager had three hits in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against Chicago on Tuesday, but the big news was that two of them came after the first inning.
The Dodgers rookie entered the game four for seven in first-inning playoff at-bats, 0 for 23 thereafter.
His single to right field in the third inning scored Andrew Toles with the Dodgers’ first run. It was his first hit in nine postseason at-bats with a runner in scoring position.
“He’s had some struggles recently, but every time he gets in the box I expect something good to happen,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said of Seager. “That two-out hit was huge to get us on the board.”
Left-hander Julio Urias, the Dodgers’ Game 4 starter, led the major leagues this season with six pickoffs in only 77 innings across 18 games.
Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said there is a good reason: Urias’ deceptive move to first base is often a balk.
“When you see it on TV, it’s pretty obvious,” Maddon said, “it’s not even close.”
After issuing a two-out walk to Bryce Harper with two outs in the fifth inning in Game 5 of the division series, Urias picked off Harper to end the inning.
Maddon thought Urias broke the plane between the mound and first base with his front foot during his leg kick, which is considered a balk.
Expect Urias’ pickoff move to be a topic of conversation between Maddon and the umpires before Wednesday’s game. Urias’ move, Maddon said, “is balking 101 for me.”
The Dodgers’ season-long struggles against left-handers are well documented, but the Cubs have recently had their own problems.
The Cubs are batting .152 (17 for 112) against left-handers during the playoffs, with 31 strikeouts and seven walks.
Dodgers’ Justin Turner hits a solo home run against Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta in the sixth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers from left, Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez and Yasiel Puig celebrate after defeating the Cubs 6-0 in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Tommy Lasorda waves to fans during the seventh inning stretch during Game 3 of the NCLS at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Yasiel Puig runs to first as Cubs pitcher Travis Wood recovers a deflected ball too late in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Cubs’ Kris Bryant strikes out as Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal celebrates in the eighth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is pulled out of the game against the Dodgers in the sixth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Corey Seager of the Dodgers hits a run-scoring single against Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta in the third inning of Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers from left, Rich Hill, Yasmandi Grandal and Justin Turner meet at the mound during the sixth inning against the Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers Adrain Gonzalez steps on the first base bag to beat Cubs’ Chris Coghlan for the out as pitcher Joe Blanton tries to stay out of the way in the seventh inning in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Justin Turner is greeted by teammate Joc Pederson after hittig a sixth-inning homer in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill exhults after striking out Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo to end the sixth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal celebrates hit two-run home run as Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta walks back to the mound in the fourth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal is cheered by coach George Lombard after hitting a two-run hom run against Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager slides safely into second ahead of the tag of Cubs second baseman Javier Baez after bringing home teammate Andrew Toles for a third-inning run in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers’ Andrew Toles scores a run as Cubs catcher Miguel Montero catches a late throw on a single by Corey Seager in the third inning in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler, left, makes a cach as he collides with right fielder Jorge Solar on a fly ball by Dodgers batter Josh Reddick in the second inning in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill pitches against the Cubs in the first inning in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill jumps in the air during his follow through while pitching a scoreless second inning against the Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Umpires gather at home plate before a game between the Dodgers and Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers Joc Pederson seems to test the padding before a game with the Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Magic Johnson and Tommy Lasorda enjoy a game between the Dodgers and Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Chicago Cubs pitcher John Lackey, center, laughs during introductions in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
No pen for Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw did not throw a bullpen session Tuesday, casting doubt on the possibility of his starting on three days of rest in Game 5 on Thursday.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said he did not know if Kershaw would skip the bullpen session altogether to save some stamina for his left arm.
“Clayton will be ready to pitch when he’s asked to pitch,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers would prefer to use Kershaw on regular rest in a potential Game 6.
The Dodgers have announced Kenta Maeda as the starter for Game 5, though Roberts has said that could change.
With the Dodgers holding a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning Tuesday night, Roberts summoned closer Kenley Jansen after Dexter Fowler’s two-out double. Jansen struck out Kris Bryant to end the inning.
The Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 6-0 lead, but Roberts wasn’t tempted to pull the heavily used Jansen, who threw a career-high 51 pitches in Game 5 of the division series and 18 pitches in Game 2 against the Cubs on Sunday night.
Jansen gave up an infield single in a scoreless ninth and needed 21 pitches to get the final four outs Tuesday night. That shouldn’t affect his availability for Game 4, but it could prevent the cut-fastball specialist from throwing multiple innings in Games 4 and 5.
“I think this was an important game for us to have,” Roberts said. “We had him in there, we had him hot. It was great to add on, but for me, I didn’t want to change the momentum at all.”
While the Dodgers deployed the same starting lineup in Game 3 as they did in Game 2, the Cubs made some significant adjustments.
Addison Russell dropped from fifth to seventh in their lineup, with Javier Baez ascending to take his place. Catcher Miguel Montero earned his first start of the series, hitting eighth. And, most notably, $184-million free-agent signee Jason Heyward sat in favor of Jorge Soler.
“More than anything, just to give them a different outlook, a different mind-set,” Maddon said before the game. “Put you in a different rocking chair, hopefully.”
Heyward struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He is two for 18 in the playoffs, one for seven against the Dodgers.
Maddon also flip-flopped his third and fourth hitters, moving down Anthony Rizzo for Ben Zobrist.
Rizzo entered Tuesday’s game with a single and three walks in 26 playoff plate appearances, and just a walk to show for his nine plate appearances in the first two NLCS games.
He had a walk and a hit Tuesday, though the hit was a roller so slow that Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick couldn’t make a play on it. Kenley Jansen shattered Rizzo’s bat — long ways — on the pitch.
Back at the park
Tom Lasorda returned to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since being hospitalized for 11 days because of blood issues, and he was in fine form.
“It’s a great day for baseball,’’ said Lasorda, 89. “I had to get out here and check this out.’’
Lasorda, who has been with the Dodgers nearly every season since he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies as a minor league pitcher in 1949, was the manager when the club last won a World Series title in 1988.
He said he has recognized similarities between those unlikely champions and the current overachieving Dodgers team, especially when starter Kershaw came out of the bullpen to save the clinching game of the division series against the Washington Nationals last week.
Orel Hershiser did the same thing in the 1988 NLCS against the New York Mets, with Lasorda allowing him to pitch when others in the dugout thought he was crazy.
“I was watching Kershaw and the announcers are talking about [Dave Roberts’] decision and I thought, ‘I did that first!’’’ Lasorda said.
Tuesday’s game was the 2,093rd between the Dodgers and Cubs. The Dodgers lead the series, 1,045-1,034-14. Yes, 14 ties. They used to have those back in the 1800s and early 1900s, according to Joe Jarek of the Dodgers publicity staff.
Times staff writers Pedro Moura, Andy McCullough and Bill Plaschke contributed to this report.