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