Cubs come­back sinks Gi­ants as Dodgers level se­ries

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The Chicago Cubs moved a step closer to end­ing their cen­tury-old World Se­ries drought by tak­ing a dra­matic 6-5 come­from-be­hind vic­tory at San Fran­cisco on Tues­day, seal­ing a 3-1 win in their Na­tional League Divi­sion Se­ries.

The iden­tity of the Cubs’ op­po­nent in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries will be de­cided Thurs­day when Wash­ing­ton hosts the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in the win­ner-takes-all Game 5 of that se­ries. The Dodgers forced the de­cider by beat­ing the Na­tion­als by that same 6-5 score­line on Tues­day.

Chicago trailed 5-2 en­ter­ing the ninth in­ning, but scored four runs in that fi­nal frame to stun the Gi­ants, whose sym­met­ri­cal run of World Se­ries ti­tles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 will not be re­peated in 2016.

Gi­ants starter Matt Moore held the Cubs to just two hits over the first eight in­nings but the San Fran­cisco bullpen un­rav­eled quickly in the ninth Kris Bryant sin­gled off Derek Law, who was re­placed on the mound by Javier Lopez who walked An­thony Rizzo to put run­ners on first and sec­ond. Another pitch­ing change saw Ser­gio Romo come in, but he gave up a dou­bled to Ben Zo­brist which drove it Bryant to make it 5-3. Yet another pitch­ing change saw Will Smith pitch to pinch-hit­ter Will­son Con­tr­eras, who drove a hit up the mid­dle to bring in two runs and tie the game. Jason Hey­ward then ground into what looked like be­ing dou­ble play, but af­ter Con­tr­eras was forced out at sec­ond, Bran­don Craw­ford’s throw to first sailed past, al­low­ing Hey­ward to ad­vance to sec­ond. Javier Baez then got a hit that brought home Hey­ward for the go-ahead run.

In the bot­tom of the ninth, hard-throw­ing Cubs closer Aroldis Chap­man re­tired the Gi­ants in or­der to cap a stun­ning vic­tory.

Chas­ing their first World Se­ries ti­tle since 1908, the Cubs will open the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries at home on Satur­day. They made the NLCS last year but were swept in four games by the New York Mets.

The de­feat ended a re­mark­able run by the Gi­ants in play­off games that would have meant elim­i­na­tion if they lost; they had won their pre­vi­ous ten. Los An­ge­les’ Chase Ut­ley drove in the tiebreak­ing run with two outs in the eighth in­ning to lift the Dodgers to a 6-5 vic­tory over Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day, squar­ing their Na­tional League Divi­sion Se­ries at 2-2 and forc­ing a de­ci­sive Game 5.

The score was tied with two outs in the eighth when An­drew Toles got hit by a pitch from Blake Treinen. An­dre Ethier fol­lowed with a sin­gle to left and Ut­ley got a hit into right field, scor­ing Toles from sec­ond base for the win­ning run. Des­per­ate to avoid another early play­off exit, the Dodgers turned to pitch­ing ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw on three days’ rest.

Like his per­for­mance in Game 1, he was be­low his best but still ended on the win­ning side. He gave up five runs in 6-2/3 in­ning, strik­ing out 11. Ker­shaw opened the game by giv­ing up a lead­off sin­gle and a walk, and Daniel Mur­phy drove in the game’s first run.

The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the bot­tom of the first in­ning on Adrian Gon­za­lez’s two-run homer that scored Justin Turner, who was on base af­ter be­ing hit by a pitch from Joe Ross.

The Na­tion­als drew level in the top of the third as Jayson Werth drove in a run. Los An­ge­les again replied im­me­di­ately in the bot­tom of the in­ning. Ker­shaw got the rally go­ing with a dou­ble, clench­ing his fists in a rare show of emo­tion.

Ker­shaw scored on Turner’s sin­gle with two outs. Joc Ped­er­son got hit by a pitch from Ross with the bases loaded, forc­ing in Turner and mak­ing it 4-2 to the hosts.

Ross made his post­sea­son de­but for the Na­tion­als, giv­ing up four runs and be­ing pulled af­ter just 2-2/3 in­nings.

Trail­ing 5-2 in the sev­enth, the Nats had run­ners on first and sec­ond against Ker­shaw with two outs. The crowd chanted Ker­shaw’s name be­fore Bryce Harper drew an eight-pitch walk to load the bases and end the day for Ker­shaw, who walked off with his head down.

That’s when the Dodgers bullpen nearly gave the game away.

Pe­dro Baez came in and hit Jayson Werth with his only pitch, forc­ing in a run to make it 53. Baez got booed off the field. Mur­phy’s sin­gle off Luis Avi­lan dropped safely in left-cen­ter field, scor­ing two runs to tie it at 5-5. Avi­lan also heard boos. Joe Blan­ton re­tired An­thony Ren­don on a swing­ing strike­out to fi­nally end the in­ning.

Dodgers closer Ken­ley Jansen worked a score­less ninth for a save, one day af­ter giv­ing up four late runs in a Game 3 loss. Game 5 is Thurs­day in Wash­ing­ton, with 20-game win­ner Max Scherzer ex­pected to pitch for the Na­tion­als. Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said he will use left-han­der Rich Hill and rookie Julio Urias, but did not an­nounce which one will start. — AP

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