MILWAUKEE—The Cubs and Dodgers have played each other 2,024 times since their first game in Brooklyn in 1890, splitting the all-time series 1,012-1,012.
And they'll face each other for the first time in the postseason beginning Wednesday at Wrigley Field. They'll kick off the best-of-five National League Division Series with Ryan Dempster facing Derek Lowe.
Manny Ramirez, the biggest reason they turned their season around and won the NL West.
"They were a tough team when we faced them, and they added Manny," closer Kerry Wood said. "It'll be a little different look, but we've got advance scouts who have been watching them. We'll get good reports and have a good game plan."
The Cubs found out their playoff opponent about 45 minutes after Ryan Braun's two-run eighth-inning homer off Bob Howry launched Milwaukee to a 3-1 victory Sunday at Miller Park.
After beating the Cubs, Milwaukee's players and coaches watched the end of the New York Mets' loss to Florida on the clubhouse TV, then came out to party on the field with about 30,000 fans celebrating in the stands. That gave the Brewers the wild card and put them in the postseason for the first time in 26 years.
The man who almost single-handedly carried Milwaukee into the postseason was left-hander CC Sabathia, who handcuffed the Cubs on four hits in a complete game while pitching on three days' rest.
"Whenever they need me to take the ball, I'll take it," Sabathia said. "I think we can do a lot of damage. We're a young team, we've got the superstars and we have a lot of fun."
The Cubs spent the last week waiting to see whom they'd face in the playoffs, resting regulars and pitchers to prepare for the postseason. Manager Lou Piniella played most of his regular position players Sunday but opted to use relievers the entire game rather than going with a starter.
Angel Guzman, Chad Gaudin, Neal Cotts and Kevin Hart combined to pitch six scoreless innings, but Michael Wuertz walked in the tying run in the seventh, and Braun went deep on Howry in the eighth to put the Brewers ahead. Howry is on the playoff roster, which Piniella will unveil Tuesday.
"I didn't see anything today that changes anything," Piniella said. "Actually, our kids pitched well today. We made a game out of it.
"Sabathia is a horse. He might be pitching on two days' rest [in the playoffs], and by the end of the year he may be on one."
The Cubs wound up with 97 wins, the most since they went 98-56 in 1945, the last time they won the pennant. They led the league in runs scored with 855, their highest total since 1930, and they finished third in the league in pitching with a 3.87 ERA.
But they have never won a postseason game west of Chicago, combining to go 0-8 in San Diego, San Francisco and Arizona. The Dodgers pose a significant challenge with the top-ranked pitching staff in the league. It centers on Lowe, a veteran sinkerballer who went 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA in September and was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Cubs in 14 innings this season.
The Dodgers went 17-8 in September and had the league's best ERA for the month. Add Ramirez, and they are a team to be reckoned with.
"We'll get a pretty good idea of the changes they've made," Piniella said. "It'll be a pretty good series."
The last Chicago-L.A. area postseason series was the White Sox's win over the Angels in the 2005 ALCS.