LOS ANGELES – It's a century and counting for the Chicago Cubs.
Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers shoved Chicago into another long winter Saturday night, completing a three-game sweep of their first-round playoff series with a 3-1 victory.
The Cubs' latest flameout has to be among the most galling, considering they fell flat against the Dodgers after their best regular season since 1945.
James Loney hit a two-out, two-run double in the first to get Los Angeles started, and Hiroki Kuroda worked 6 1-3 brilliant innings in the first postseason outing of his career.
The three wins boosted first-year manager Joe Torre's postseason total to 79 — the most in baseball history. His first 76 came in the last 12 years as skipper of the New York Yankees, including 16 in four World Series triumphs.
After earning their first postseason series win in 20 years, the Dodgers will face Philadelphia or Milwaukee in the best-of-seven NLCS starting Thursday — at Philadelphia should the Phillies win, at Dodger Stadium should the Brewers prevail.
And the Cubs head home without having come close to their first World Series triumph since 1908. They have lost nine straight playoff games, including three to Arizona in the first round last year.
While the Cubs clinched the NL Central on Sept. 20 and won a league-high 97 games, the Dodgers had a losing record as recently as early September before turning things around behind Ramirez. They went 84-78 and won the NL West, baseball's weakest division.
Make no mistake, the Dodgers dominated this series, outscoring Chicago 20-6 thanks in part to a lot of help from the bumbling Cubs. Cursed or not, they were outplayed in every way, committing six errors and doing a woeful job of hitting with runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, entered having won only one postseason game since beating Oakland in the 1988 World Series. They tripled that output against the Cubs.
Ramirez, who hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games after joining the Dodgers in a deadline-deal trade, went 1-for-2 and scored a run, giving him five hits in 10 at-bats with two homers, five runs scored and three RBIs in the series. Rich Harden (0-1) walked Ramirez intentionally twice.
Kuroda, a 33-year-old rookie who signed a $35.3 million, three-year contract with the Dodgers last winter, scattered six hits before being relieved by Cory Wade with two on and one out in the seventh. Kuroda never appeared in a playoff game during 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League.
This wasn't Kuroda's first outstanding performance against the Cubs — he shut them out on four hits while striking out 11 on June 6 at Dodger Stadium.
The Cubs were pretty awful in the first two games at Wrigley Field, where they were an NL-best 55-26 during the regular season. Game 1 starter Ryan Dempster matched a career high with seven walks in 4 2-3 innings in a 7-2 loss, and each of the four Chicago infielders committed errors in Game 2, leading to a 10-3 setback.
A move to Los Angeles didn't help the Chicago offense, which scored a league-leading 855 runs this year. The Cubs had only four hits in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first two games before going 1-for-11 in Game 3.
At least the long-suffering Cubs fans weren't around to boo them in Game 3, although the Dodger Stadium faithful made up for that.
Russell Martin hit a one-out double in the first and took third on a single by Ramirez. After Harden struck out Andre Ethier, Loney hit a liner down the right-field line, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead and sending the towel-waving fans into an early frenzy.
Loney's fifth-inning grand slam off Dempster in Game 1 erased the Cubs' only lead of the series.
Rafael Furcal walked with one out in the fifth and scored on a double by Martin, making it 3-0. Harden was lifted after intentionally walking Ramirez for the second time, and Sean Marshall came on to retire Ethier and Loney.
The Cubs got their run in the eighth off Wade on a leadoff double by Derrek Lee, who had three hits, and a two-out RBI single by pinch-hitter Daryle Ward. Jonathan Broxton relieved and struck out Mark DeRosa to end the inning, and worked a perfect ninth with two more strikeouts to earn a save.
Harden allowed five hits and three runs in 4 1-3 innings. He had gone 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his last 10 starts of the regular season.
The Cubs put two runners aboard with two outs in both the first and third innings, but Kuroda worked out of trouble each time, retiring Geovany Soto to end the first and Aramis Ramirez to finish the third, both on grounders to third baseman Casey Blake.
Soto doubled to open the fourth and took third on an infield out. But after Soto stayed at third on another groundout, the Dodgers walked Ryan Theriot intentionally before Kuroda fanned Harden for his first strikeout of the game. That would be the first of eight straight batters Kuroda would retire until Theriot's infield single with one out in the seventh.
Kosuke Fukudome, benched after going hitless in eight at-bats in the first two games, followed with a single in his first at-bat after entering the game as part of a double-switch. Wade worked out of trouble by retiring Alfonso Soriano on a fly to right and Mike Fontenot on a liner to center.