Hernandez, Dodgers crush Cubs, headed to World Series

For the first time since 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the World Series.

Los Angeles rode a five-run third inning to put away the Chicago Cubs and claim the National League pennant with a 11-1 victory Thursday night. The Dodgers await the American League champion knowing they will host Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 24 at Dodger Stadium.

Kike Hernandez belted three home runs and ace Clayton Kershaw cruised through six innings for the Dodgers, who kicked the defending World Series champions to the curb by claiming the National League Championship Series four games to one.

Hernandez, batting sixth in the lineup after being dropped from the No. 4 spot, drilled a bases-loaded liner into the right-center field bleachers to put the Dodgers ahead 7-0 in the top of the third.

He also homered to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead and the capper, a two-run blast to left center in the top of the ninth off left-hander Mike Montgomery, gave Hernandez a League Championship Series-record seven RBIs in the game.

The Dodgers will host Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 24. The Houston Astros and New York Yankees play Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday. The Yankees hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Fans became streaming out of Wrigley Field in the fourth inning, before Kris Bryant’s solo homer to left field, got the Cubs on the scoreboard. Kershaw surrendered three hits and struck out five.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS and won the World Series in a seven-game thriller with the Cleveland Indians.

Cubs starter Jose Quintana was pulled before recording an out in the third inning. Quintana threw 50 pitches and gave up six earned runs on six hits.

Cubs right-handed reliever Hector Rondon struck out the first batter he faced — second baseman Logan Forsythe — on three pitches but Hernandez hit the first grand slam in the postseason by a Dodgers since 2008 (James Loney) and sparked a celebration in front of the Dodgers’ dugout.

Forsythe doubled to plate two more in the fourth inning.

Hernandez hit 11 home runs in 342 plate appearances during the regular season in 2017.

Kershaw would be ready to start the World Series opener on normal rest. If there is any alarm for the Dodgers to consider during their weekend off, it could be Kershaw’s recent penchant for giving up the long ball.

The homer to Bryant in the fourth inning was the eighth allowed by Kershaw in a span of 16 innings.

However, the bullpen shut down the Cubs as it did the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS, setting a new playoff record for consecutive scoreless innings.

Shortstop Corey Seager worked out in Los Angeles this week and is optimistic he can return to the roster for the World Series after missing the NLCS with a back injury. Charlie Culberson performed admirably in the NLCS, including a three-hit night Thursday.

Seager, 23, hit .295 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs in the regular season.

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