Cubs on the cusp af­ter 5-2 win over Gi­ants

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Pitch­ers Kyle Hen­dricks and Travis Wood pro­duced on the mound and at the plate Satur­day to pro­pel the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 vic­tory over the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants and a com­mand­ing lead in their Ma­jor League Base­ball play­off se­ries.

The Cubs, in search of their first World Se­ries win in more than a cen­tury, lead the best-of-five Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries 2-0 and will try to book their spot in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries in game three in San Fran­cisco on Mon­day. Wood, who took over on the mound af­ter starter Hen­dricks was hit on the fore­arm by a line drive off the bat of An­gel Pa­gan in the fourth in­ning, earned the vic­tory-and also be­came the first re­lief pitcher since 1924 to belt a home run in the post-sea­son.

In all the Cubs used six pitch­ers. Aroldis Chap­man re­tired three straight Gi­ants in the ninth, strik­ing out two for his sec­ond save in as many games. “Ob­vi­ously the bullpen to­day was un­be­liev­able,” said Hen­dricks. “They won that game.” Be­fore de­part­ing, Hen­dricks de­liv­ered a two-run sin­gle to spark the Cubs’ three-run sec­ond in­ning.

Ja­son Hey­ward belted a lead­off dou­ble in the sec­ond. Javier Baez walked and Will­son Con­tr­eras lined a base hit to right to load the bases with none out. Hen­dricks, a .138 hit­ter dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, sin­gled to shal­low cen­ter to score Hey­ward and Baez.

Con­tr­eras reached third on Dex­ter Fowler’s sac­ri­fice and came home on Kris Bryant’s base hit. That gave made it 4-0 for the Cubs, who had put one run on the board in the first in­ning af­ter Fowler dou­bled and scored on Ben Zo­brist’s two-out sin­gle. San Fran­cisco re­sponded with two runs in the third, pulling strug­gling start­ing pitcher Jeff Sa­mardz­ija early for a pinch hit­ter. Hen­dricks’ out­ing ended with two out in the fourth. Afer he was struck, he threw sev­eral warm-up pitches be­fore it was de­cided he should seek treat­ment on his pitch­ing arm.

“When it first hit me I didn’t re­ally feel it,” he said. “Once I started throw­ing a lit­tle more off the mound it just was tight­en­ing up on me. “Xrays were neg­a­tive though, so hope­fully it’s just a day-to-day thing.”

RARE FEAT FOR RE­LIEVER

He was re­placed by Wood, who in the bot­tom of the in­ning belted his 10th ca­reer home run to make it a 5-2 lead.

It was his first homer in post-sea­son play-and just the sec­ond ever by a re­lief pitcher in the play­offs, af­ter that of the New York Gi­ants’ Rosy Ryan in game three of the 1924 World Se­ries.

“(The homer) was a spe­cial mo­ment for me,” said Wood, who also struck out two and didn’t al­low a hit in his 1 1/3 in­nings. “But just to be able to pull off the win was huge.”

Wood, a for­mer starter who switched to re­lief roles, has been re­lied on by Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don, with 77 ap­pear­ances in the reg­u­lar sea­son. “He’s been out­stand­ing,” Mad­don said. “When he goes out there to play even in the tight­est sit­u­a­tion, he’s very com­fort­able with it. “He takes his bat­ting prac­tice, he looks for those op­por­tu­ni­ties and then he seized it to­day.”

The win­ners of the se­ries will face ei­ther the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als or Los An­ge­les Dodgers for a World Se­ries berth.

Yes­ter­day’s sched­uled Na­tion­als-Dodgers game in Wash­ing­ton was rained out. MLB com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred said the game would be played on Sun­day at Na­tion­als Park, where the Dodgers won game one on Fri­day to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

The teams will travel af­ter the con­test and play game three as sched­uled to­day in Los An­ge­les.

—AFP

CHICAGO: Bran­don Belt #9 of the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants forces out Addison Rus­sell #27 of the Chicago Cubs at first base in the fifth in­ning at Wrigley Field on Satur­day in Chicago, Illinois.

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