CUBS OUTLAST NATIONALS 9-8, ADVANCE TO NLCS
Addison Russell drives in four runs and closer Wade Davis gets seven outs as the Cubs beat the Nationals 9-8 in Game 5.
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 champion Cubs come back — and then hold on — to edge the Nationals 9-8 and reach the NL Championship Series for the third year in a row.
Russell drove in a total of 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 early Friday.
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.
Chicago, which surpassed its total of eight runs in the first four games of the NL Division Series, advanced to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will start ace Clayton Kershaw at home in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night.
For manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs, this was their fourth consecutive victory in a win-orbe-eliminated postseason game.
That includes three straight to end the 2016 World Series, when Chicago trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 before forcing a Game 7 won by the Cubs in 10 innings.
The Nationals, meanwhile, went one-and-done yet again: This is the fourth time in the past six years that the club won the NL East and immediately lost its opening playoff series. And this is the third time in that span that Washington bowed out with a Game 5 NLDS loss at home; that also happened in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals and last year against the Dodgers.
Homers by Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor gave the hosts a 4-1 lead in the second against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks.
But Gio Gonzalez gave back two of those runs, so it was 4-3 as two-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer entered for the fifth. He started Game 3 of this series, pushed back because of an injured right hamstring, and hadn’t come out of the bullpen since 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.
By the time Scherzer’s one inning was over, the Cubs had taken a 7-4 lead.
Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras begins to celebrate after the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper struck out swinging in the ninth inning to end Game 5. The Cubs advanced to the NLCS with a 9-8 victory in Washington.