Leadoff home run set the tone for Game 3

Jim Ruppert

Wait 'til next year, chapter 99.

There will be no World Series in Chicago this year. The Arizona Diamondbacks saw to that Saturday night with a 5-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, finishing off the best-of-five National League Division Series in three straight games.

That means the Cubs, who last won the World Series in 1908 and last played in the Series in 1945, were left to sing a familiar refrain (and it wasn't "Go Cubs Go").

"From the first inning on, it seemed like they took control of it," said Lou Piniella, the 29th Cubs manager since 1945 to be denied a trip to the World Series.

Yes, it was over early, when Arizona leadoff man Chris Young hit losing pitcher Rich Hill's first pitch into the left-field bleachers. The second batter, Stephen Drew, then doubled to right and eventually came around when 20-year-old Justin Upton delivered a two-out single to right field.

"Chris Young leading off the game with a home run on the first pitch was a huge momentum swing for us," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

"Fans are as passionate here as they are anywhere in baseball. We knew we had to take them out of it, and Chris Young's home run in the first inning went a long way with that."

And the youthful Diamondbacks never let the Cubs take that momentum back, even though Arizona starter and winner Livan Hernandez gave Chicago plenty of chances. The Cubs left eight runners on base in the first five innings even though they hit into two double plays during that span and three in the game.

"We had numerous opportunities tonight," Piniella said. "Numerous. And I don't know how many double plays we hit into, but quite a few. We just didn't get the big hit when we needed it. What can I say?"

During the three-game series, the Cubs had at least one runner on base in 13 of 27 innings, including seven of the nine innings Saturday. They batted .087 (2-for-23) with runners in scoring position during the series.

"They just caught us cold," Piniella said. "But again, let's give their pitching credit, too. Our team tried. We just didn't get it done, and that's really the end of the story."

The Cubs batted .194 in the series. Aramis Ramirez was 0-for-12, including 0-for-3 Saturday with a double-play grounder that ended a third-inning rally. Alfonso Soriano batted .143 and was hitless Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks, with six of their nine starters 25 or younger, played like veterans. The 24-year-old Drew batted .500 in the series with two home runs and 16 total bases. The 24-year-old Young batted .273 and hit a pair of homers. Upton batted .600.

"We have our veteran influence, but our young guys are taking us where we've gotten," Melvin said. "We don't do it without a concerted effort from everybody on our team.

"We can't rely on three or four guys to shoulder the load. We have to get it from multiple guys every day, and our younger guys showed up big."

The Diamondbacks knocked Hill out of the game in the fourth when No. 8 hitter Miguel Montero walked after falling behind 0-2 and Hernandez singled to right. Michael Wuertz replaced Hill and walked Young, but he struck out Drew. The third run scored on Eric Byrnes' fielder's choice grounder, and Conor Jackson flied out to end the inning.

The Cubs got their only run in the bottom of the fourth when Mark DeRosa singled leading off and Jacque Jones followed with a double, sending DeRosa to third. Jason Kendall's ground-out plated the run, but pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot grounded out and Soriano flied out to end the threat.

Then in the fifth Hernandez walked Ryan Theriot, Cliff Floyd and Ramirez before DeRosa grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"He's a guy that you've got to have some patience with because he will have some runners on base and he will find ways to pitch himself out of it," Melvin said. "This time of the season it can be a little bit more difficult to be patient at times, but unless we look at it and his stuff isn't there, we don't have better."

Hernandez, who previously pitched in the postseason with Florida and San Francisco, always wiggled out of the jams.

"Like my family told me a lot of times, pressure is nothing," said Hernandez, who defected from Cuba in 1996. "Pressure is living in Cuba.

"I've been in this situation before."

Hernandez lasted through six innings before Melvin turned things over to the bullpen. Byrnes' sixth-inning home run and Drew's ninth-inning blast gave the Diamondbacks plenty of margin for error, and Tony Pena, Brandon Lyon and Jose Valverde each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out.

"You don't come and plan on sweeping any team," said Young, who was acquired from the White Sox in December of 2005. "You win the series any way you can and try to find a way and deal with the celebrations afterward."

There is no Most Valuable Player for the divisional series, but if there had been one, Drew was the likely winner.

"The way Livo (Hernandez) pitched tonight . . . he's been in this situation before," Drew said. "I think it keeps everybody loose and, you know, everybody tries to do their job and pick each other up.

"If somebody can't do it, let the next guy do it. That's how it's been all year, and at the end of the day we just shake hands and try to win the series."

Hand shakes all around as the Diamondbacks advance to take on the winner of the Philadelphia-Colorado series in the National League Championship Series.

-- State Journal-Register