Cubs beat Dodgers 8-4, head home with 3-2 lead

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES:

One win away. Two chances at home. Seven decades of wait­ing. The Chicago Cubs closed in on their first World Se­ries trip since 1945 by beat­ing the Los An­ge­les Dodgers 8-4 on Thurs­day in Game 5 of their Na­tional League play­off. Jon Lester pitched seven sharp in­nings , Ad­di­son Rus­sell hit a tiebreak­ing homer and the Cubs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries. On deck, a pair of op­por­tu­ni­ties to wrap up that elu­sive pen­nant at Wrigley Field.

“The city of Chicago has got to be buzzing pretty much right now,” man­ager Joe Maddon said. “We’re not go­ing to run away from any­thing. It’s within our reach right now.” The Cubs’ first op­por­tu­nity to clinch comes Satur­day night in Game 6, when Dodgers ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw faces ma­jor league ERA leader Kyle Hen­dricks.

“That’s a game we ex­pect to win,” Los An­ge­les man­ager Dave Roberts said. Of course, the Cubs were in the same fa­vor­able po­si­tion 13 years ago - head­ing home to Wrigley with a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. But even with ace pitch­ers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood start­ing the fi­nal two games, Chicago col­lapsed against the Mar­lins in one of its most ex­cru­ci­at­ing fail­ures.

More than a decade later, the fran­chise is still chas­ing its first World Se­ries cham­pi­onship since 1908. “We’ve heard the his­tory,” cen­ter fielder Dex­ter Fowler said, “but at the same time we’re try­ing to make his­tory.” Bud­ding star Javier Baez was in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing for the Cubs, a com­mon theme this Oc­to­ber. The sec­ond base­man made a sen­sa­tional de­fen­sive play when the game was still close in the sev­enth, and his three-run dou­ble capped a five-run eighth that made it 8-1. Af­ter bust­ing out of his post­sea­son slump Wed­nes­day, Rus­sell hit a two-run homer for the sec­ond straight game. This one was a sixth-in­ning drive off los­ing pitcher Joe Blan­ton that gave Chicago a 3-1 lead.

“Just round­ing the bases, it was pretty ex­cit­ing,” Rus­sell said. “Pumped up, not only for my­self but for the team and that lit­tle cush­ion that Jonny had to go for­ward from that.” Baez had three of Chicago’s 13 hits, match­ing the team’s to­tal in Game 4, when the Cubs snapped a 21-in­ning score­less streak and won 10-2.

Lester al­lowed one run and five hits, im­prov­ing to 2-0 in three play­off starts this year. He has given up two runs in 21 in­nings. The left-han­der struck out six and walked one in a slow-paced game that lasted 4 hours, 16 min­utes.

“These guys won the game for us,” Lester said, nod­ding to­ward Rus­sell and Baez. “I was just kind of along for the ride.” An­thony Rizzo’s run-scor­ing dou­ble gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first. Los An­ge­les tied it in the fourth on Adrian Gon­za­lez’s RBI ground­out. Rus­sell home­red on an 0-1 pitch from Blan­ton, who gave up a sin­gle to Baez lead­ing off the sixth. Baez stole sec­ond be­fore Rus­sell’s shot to left-cen­ter put the Cubs ahead on another un­usu­ally hot night at Dodger Sta­dium.—AP

LOS AN­GE­LES: Ad­di­son Rus­sell #27 of the Chicago Cubs turns a dou­ble play as Justin Turner #10 of the Los An­ge­les Dodgers is out at sec­ond base in the eighth in­ning in game five of the Na­tional League Divi­sion Se­ries at Dodger Sta­dium on Thurs­day in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia. — AFP

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