On the cusp of defeat and a fifth and deciding game, the Chicago Cubs rallied in the ninth inning to oust the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in the National League Division Series.
The Giants were in the box seat atop the ninth, leading 5-2 in game four, before they stunningly capitulated as the Cubs posted four unanswered runs in San Francisco to advance to the National League Championship Series for a second successive season.
Chicago sent the heart of their order to the plate against five different Giants relievers in the top of the ninth, scoring four runs. The big hits: Ben Zobrist had an RBI double in a great at-bat, and pinch-hitter Willson Contreras had a two-run single to tie it at 5-5. Javier Baez singled in Jason Heyward with the game winner.
Next up for the Cubs are either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals.
The Dodgers put the ball in ace Clayton Kershaw's hand Tuesday, hoping the veteran could do his magic on only three days' rest to force a game five.
But in the end, an unexpected veteran proved the difference for the Dodgers. Chase Utley's two-out single in the bottom of the eighth drove in Andrew Toles for the eventual winning run in the Dodgers' 6-5 victory over the Nationals at Dodgers Stadium.
Kershaw looked great through six innings, giving up only two earned runs on five hits, while striking out 10 and walking two.
DESTINY FOR CUBS?
So much has been written about the Cubs' long World Series drought, postseason curses, etc. And when they were on the verge of blowing a 2-0 series lead and heading back to Chicago for a must-win game five, it appeared to be yet another sad chapter in their history; and you could almost predict the Giants would win game five. But the Cubs' rally showed they have a lot of fight. To beat the Giants, who had won 10 straight postseason games while facing elimination, makes it even sweeter.
Daniel Murphy, the New York Mets' playoff hero last term, continued his phenomenal postseason play for the Nats, going two-for-three with four RBIs. He is now six-for-13 with six RBIs in this series.
David Ross, the Cubs' 39-year-old catcher, was Chicago's brightest light in the early going. He homered in the top of the third to tie the score at 1-1, becoming the oldest catcher, and oldest Cub (39 years, 206 days) to homer in a postseason game. In the bottom of the inning, he nailed Denard Span trying to steal second. In the fifth, he drove in Chicago's second run with a sacrifice fly.
BAEZ LEADS CUBS TO WIN
With the game tied at 5-5, Baez stepped up and singled on a ground ball to centre field, allowing Heyward to score the winning run after Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Zobrist had made it home earlier in the ninth.
Fans will have to sit through a day without baseball on Wednesday. The postseason is not scheduled to resume until Thursday, with the Dodgers and Nationals earning a well-deserved break heading into game five.