Chicago scrambles back for bizarre Game 5 win
WASHINGTON — The Chicago Cubs win whenever they need to, with whatever it takes, even a seven-out save by Wade Davis to preserve a shrinking lead and a “did that really happen?” four-run inning against Washington’s Max Scherzer in a thriller of a Game 5.
That wild, bat-around fifth inning Thursday night for Chicago included Addison Russell’s go-ahead, two-run double, a bases-loaded hit by pitch, and a disputed dropped third strike followed by a throwing error, helping the defending World Series champions come back — and then hold on — to edge the Nationals 9-8.
For the third year in a row, Chicago reached the National League Championship Series. It will head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night.
“Give the boys credit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s one of the most incredible victories I’ve ever been part of.”
Russell drove in four runs and Davis, Chicago’s seventh pitcher, turned in his longest appearance since 2012. The Cubs trailed 4-1, then led 8-4 and 9-6, in a game that lasted more than 4½ hours and ended after 12:30 a.m. Friday in Washington.
Catcher Willson Contreras picked off Jose Lobaton at first base to quash a Washington threat in the eighth, and Davis fanned a swinging Bryce Harper for the final out.
“It was a series of bad events,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Homers by Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead in the second against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. But Gonzalez gave back two of those runs.
It was 4-3 as two-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer entered for the fifth. By the time Scherzer’s one inning was over, the Cubs had taken a 7-4 lead behind three hits and a series of odd plays.
For Maddon and the Cubs, this was their fourth consecutive victory in a win-or-beeliminated postseason game. That includes three straight to end the 2016 World Series.
For the Nationals, it was the fourth time in six seasons that the club won the NL East and immediately lost its opening playoff series and the third time in that span it bowed out with a Game 5 NLDS loss at home.
Chicago catcher Willson Contreras reacts after Wade Davis struck out Washington’s Bryce Harper (left) to end a game that took more than 4½ hours and was filled with odd plays.