“The atmosphere here was real quiet as I was going around the bases. So I think our fans were cheering back home,” Loney said.
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.
“I’m just being Manny,” Manny said.
“That’s it. I’ve been playing great everywhere, and I’m just happy that I’m here in L.A. It was a great move for me, just to go and show people that that other stuff that I left behind wasn’t true, that I just want to come and get a new life and play the game … and show people that I still can do this.”
Few needed to be convinced, because after being traded from Boston, Ramirez sparked the Dodgers to the NL West title. And there he was Wednesday night, leading them again, even hustling hard to beat out an infield single in the third inning.
“We get a sense of what he’s been doing all these years,” Loney said.
The win 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.
Only 18 of 56 teams who lost the division series opener came back to win the series, including only four of 28 in the NL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“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.
“It does lot for our confidence,” Torre said. “We know how good Chicago is. We know how consistent they’ve been all year. And to have them get a lead and for us to just maintain our patience, it’s important.”
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 (0-1) 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.
The Dodgers padded the lead in the eighth when Blake DeWitt doubled and reached third on an error by center fielder Jim Edmonds, scoring on Casey Blake’s single off Jeff Samardzija. Martin homered off Jason Marquis in the ninth.
Dempster, 14-3 at Wrigley during the regular season, threw 109 pitches in just 4 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and four hits while matching a career high seven walks.
“I sure put myself in a tough situation,” Dempster added.
Lowe (1-0) 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 allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.
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.
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.