CHICAGO -- As Wrigleyville erupted in a celebration 71 years in the making, the Dodgers filed back to a cramped visitors' clubhouse left as the latest to be overpowered by a Cubs team that has been baseball's best for months.
But while Game 6 of the National League Championship Series got away from the Dodgers early and ended with the Cubs sailing to a 5-0 victory at Wrigley Field on Saturday night, several within the Cubs' organization took time amid the postgame celebration to recognize the formidable opponent they had just toppled.
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"We beat a great Dodger team," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. "Great organization. Give a lot of credit to the Dodgers and the Giants [who the Cubs beat in the NL Division Series]. We're going through the tough teams."
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The Dodgers, who were trying to advance to their first World Series since 1988, earned a spot opposite the Cubs in this NLCS by winning the NL West title by four games and then inching past the Nationals in the first round of the playoffs.
Los Angeles then raced out to a 2-1 NLCS lead behind consecutive shutouts in games started by Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. Those were also the two starters the Dodgers had lined up to pitch Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7, which made Saturday's conclusion anything but a guarantee ahead of time.
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Yet, the Cubs stunned Kershaw by pouncing on him for runs in four of his five innings Saturday.
"Kershaw is really good," shortstop Addison Russell said. "I think we stuck to our approach tonight and saw the ball well. He's still one of the best pitchers on earth, hands down."
In order to give themselves a chance to beat Kershaw, the Cubs needed a strong performance by the man opposing him. Kyle Hendricks gave that to Chicago with 7 1/3 scoreless innings. Hendricks had been outdueled by Kershaw in Game 2.
"You want to go up against the best, beat the best," Hendricks said. "He's the best in the game, and that lineup over there is really good, too. It was dogfight of a series."
After the game, managers Joe Maddon and Dave Roberts sought each other out, embraced and congratulated one another on a series well played.
"Today was a huge game against those guys and one of the best pitchers of all time, and our guys had great at-bats," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It says a lot about their mentality to be able to come out and have those at-bats against Kershaw in a big spot."