CHICAGO - Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre brought their winning postseason ways to the Los Angeles Dodgers — and Wrigley Field. James Loney hit a go-ahead grand slam off a wild Ryan Dempster, Ramirez and Russell Martin homered and the new-look Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 7-2 in their NL playoff opener Wednesday night.
Los Angeles Dodgers' James Loney hits a grand slam during fifth-inning baseball action in Game 1 of the National League division series against the Chicago Cubs, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008, in Chicago.
(AP Photo/Nam Huh)
The Cubs entered the postseason with the best record in league, hoping for a fast start 100 years after their last World Series championship.
But Ramirez and Torre, winners of six World Series crowns in the AL, wound up on top in their first playoff game together. Ramirez's homer was his 25th in the postseason, extending his own record.
"We get a sense of what he's been doing all these years," Loney said.
It was a good omen for the Dodgers. The last time they started a postseason series with a victory was 1988 — the Kirk Gibson game in the World Series.
The Cubs will try to get even in Game 2 on Thursday night when they send mercurial right-hander Carlos Zambrano against Chad Billingsley.
"Let's hope we get better," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Let's put this one behind us and go get them tomorrow."
Torre made his 13th straight postseason managerial appearance — the previous 12 were with the Yankees — and extended his record for postseason wins to 77 in a matchup with Piniella, another veteran skipper.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Mark DeRosa's homer in the second inning off Derek Lowe, but the Dodgers rebounded against Dempster, who had trouble finding the strike zone all night.
Dempster walked the bases loaded in the fifth, and Loney delivered for the Dodgers.
After swinging and missing the first two pitches, he sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in center for the grand slam that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead and silenced a Wrigley Field crowd that was cheering loudly for Dempster to get out of the jam he created.
"Invariably, when you keep putting people on, they're going to score, and they scored there quickly with that grand slam," Piniella said.
When Matt Kemp followed with a double, Piniella had seen enough and brought in Sean Marshall from the bullpen. Marshall gave up Ramirez's solo shot in the seventh that made it 5-2.
The Dodgers padded the lead in the eighth when Blake DeWitt doubled and reached third on an error by Cubs' center fielder Jim Edmonds, scoring on Casey Blake's single off Jeff Samardzija. Martin homered off Jason Marquis in the top of the ninth.
On the first day of spring training, Dempster said he thought the Cubs would win the World Series this year. Now, they're in a hole already.
Dempster (0-1), 14-3 at Wrigley during the regular season, threw 109 pitches in just 4 2-3 innings, giving up four hits and four runs while walking seven to tie a career high.
Lowe went 6-1 in his final 10 starts of the regular season as the Dodgers got past Arizona to win the AL West, with a huge boost from Ramirez's 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games after he was acquired from the Red Sox.
Lowe (1-0) worked six innings, allowing two runs and seven hits.
DeRosa, who played six positions this season while setting a career high with 21 homers, missed the final four games of the regular season with strained calf muscle.
After a single by Edmonds, DeRosa lifted a high fly down the right-field line, and the ball kept carrying, landing just over the fence and to the left of the pole to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. It was his first postseason homer.
The wind at Wrigley Field, often a factor, was blowing from left to right across the field and announced at 6 mph to start the game.
Los Angeles also loaded the bases in the third on two walks and an infield single by Ramirez before Dempster struck out Andre Ethier to end it.
Dempster was helped in the inning by two nice defensive plays. Kosuke Fukudome, who got the start in right because of his defense not his slumping bat, snagged Blake's foul fly as he tripped over the bullpen mound. And Alfonso Soriano raced to the warning track in deep left to flag down Russell Martin's long drive.
Torre and Piniella met for the third time in the playoffs. Torre's Yankees beat Piniella's Seattle Mariners in the 2000 and 2001 AL championship series. The veteran managers came across each other at dinner Tuesday night.
"I felt pretty good about it. I said, `If you're here, it must be a pretty good restaurant,'" Torre recalled telling Piniella.
The Cubs are out to end their 100-year championship drought and the Dodgers have been struggling in the postseason for the last two decades. Before winning Wednesday night, Los Angeles had been 1-12 in the playoffs since beating Oakland in the 1988 Series.
After all his successful years with the Yankees and the many eventful games, Torre was still well aware of his surroundings Wednesday night.
"I've been in the American League for 12 years, to come into Wrigley Field for a playoff game, this is pretty cool," said Torre, who also has managed the Mets, Cardinals and Braves.
Notes:@ Greg Maddux pitched the ninth for the Dodgers. The 355-game winner made a couple of relief appearances in the postseason for Atlanta in 1998 and 1999. Maddux, who started his career with the Cubs and had two stints with them, got a warm welcome during pregame introductions.