After collecting just two hits through the first eight innings Tuesday, the Cubs rallied for four hits and four runs against five Giants pitchers in the ninth to win 6-5 and claim the National League Division Series in four games.
The Cubs advance to face the winner between the Dodgers and Nationals in the NLCS.
Javy Baez hit the go-ahead single that scored Jason Heyward in the ninth inning. That at-bat was preceded by RBI singles from pinch-hitter Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist. Contreras hit a two-run single that tied the game at 5-5.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy cycled through five pitchers to face seven batters in the ninth inning, but clearly his strategy backfired.
Aroldis Chapman came on in the bottom of the ninth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to close out the game.
The Cubs had been dormant all night, struggling to do anything against Giants starter Matt Moore. Moore struck out 10 batters and gave up just two hits and two walks.
Cubs starter John Lackey lasted just four innings and gave up three runs on seven hits.
Top Ninth: The Cubs have their rally caps on again in the ninth.
Javy Baez hit an RBI single to continue a four-run rally and give the Cubs their first lead of the game.
Kris Bryant started the rally with a leadoff single. Anthony Rizzo walked, and Ben Zobrist singled to score the first run.
Willson Contreras pinch-hit for Addison Russell and smacked a single up the middle to score the tying runs.
The Giants used five pitchers against six batters, and the strategy clearly didn’t work.
Middle ninth: Cubs 6, Giants 5
Due up for Giants: Strickland, Span, Belt
Bottom Eighth: It’s hard to believe the Cubs were six outs from sweeping the series last night. Then the bullpen imploded in the eighth and the Cubs lost in 13 innings.
Now the Cubs have three outs to make up a three-run deficit, otherwise the Giants will tie the series 2-2.
Hector Rondon took over in the eighth and faced just three batters.
New San Francisco hero Conor Gillaspie notched his fourth hit of the game but was thrown out in a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Cubs have heart of the order due up.
End eighth: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up for Cubs: Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist
Top Eighth: Turns out Matt Moore wasn’t finished. And he’s going out with an exclamation point tonight.
Moore came back in for the eighth despite a pitch count north of 100 and went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. He struck out David Ross to open the frame, then struck out Dexter Fowler looking to close it. They were his ninth and 10th strikeouts of the night.
The Cubs will have the heart of their order due up in ninth, the last bit of consolation in this game.
Middle eighth: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up for Giants: Gillaspie, Panik, Blanco
Bottom Seventh: C.J. Edwards pitched the Cubs’ second straight 1-2-3 inning with three groundball outs.
Even though the Cubs bullpen seems to have stabilized late in the game here, the offense has been impotent all night and throughout the series. Cubs pitchers still have more RBIs than position players in the past four games.
Cubs are down to their final six outs.
End seventh: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up for Cubs: Ross, Edwards, Fowler
Top Seventh: The best news of the 1-2-3 seventh inning for the Cubs?
That’ll probably do it for Matt Moore, who is at 106 pitches. Moore has been stellar tonight, allowing just two hits, two walks and one unearned run.
The Cubs are six outs away from squandering a 2-0 lead in this NLDS and facing an elimination game.
Middle seventh: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up: Posey, Pence, Crawford
Bottom Sixth: Travis Wood threw the first 1-2-3 inning for the Cubs in the sixth, retiring Matt Moore, Denard Span and Brandon Belt.
Wood struck out Moore swinging and then froze Span.
The Cubs have just two hits tonight — the solo home run from David Ross and and a single from Anthony Rizzo. The middle third of the order is due up in the seventh.
End sixth: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up for Cubs: Russell, Heyward, Baez
Top Sixth: It’s far too early to call this game over, but it’s sure not the Cubs’ night.
Dexter Fowler led off with a four-pitch walk, and Kris Bryant singled to lead off the sixth.
But the shallow bloop single to right put Fowler in no-man’s land, and he got thrown out with a laser throw from Hunter Pence in right. It went down as a fielder’s choice for Bryant.
Anthony Rizzo struck out and Ben Zobrist grounded out to end an inning that started with the first two batters reaching base safely.
Giants pitcher Matt Moore is through six innings and has allowed just two hits and two walks. He’s at 97 pitches.
Middle sixth: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up for Giants: Moore, Span, Belt
Bottom Fifth: Conor Gillaspie, the pesky former White Sox hitter who has become the face of the 2016 postseason, singled in a run, and Joe Panik hit a sacrifice fly to extend the Giants’ lead to 5-2.
Justin Grimm relieved John Lackey to start the inning and gave up a single to Hunter Pence and double to Brandon Crawford. Travis Wood relieved Grimm and gave up the hit to Gillaspie that began the scoring.
Final line on Lackey: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K
It seems the Cubs insist on making this series a nailbiter.
End fifth: Giants 5, Cubs 2
Due up for Cubs: Fowler, Bryant, Rizzo
Top Fifth: David Ross drove in the Cubs’ second run with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Javy Baez from third.
Ross has driven in both the Cubs’ runs after his home run in the third.
Baez reached on a throwing error by Brandon Crawford that allowed him to advance all the way to third with one out.
Middle fifth: Giants 3, Cubs 2
Due up for Giants: Posey, Pence, Crawford
Bottom Fourth: Giants pitcher Matt Moore singled on an 0-2 pitch from John Lackey with the bases loaded to help his own cause and reclaim the lead for San Francisco.
Denard Span followed the single with a fielder’s choice that could have — should have? — been a double play. Anthony Rizzo scooped up the grounder, tossed it to second for one, then Lackey missed first base when trying for the second out.
Joe Panik came in to score to give the Giants a 3-1 lead.
The Giants sent seven batters to the plate in the inning and collected three hits and left three on base.
End four: Giants 3, Cubs 1
Due up for Cubs: Heyward, Baez, Ross
Top Fourth: Anthony Rizzo continues to show signs he’s coming around.
He singled in the fourth after drawing a walk in the first. Two good plate appearances after failing to reach base in the first three games of the series.
His leadoff single went for naught, though, after Addison Russell grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Cubs have two hits through four innings, including David Ross’s home run.
Middle Fourth: Cubs 1, Giants 1
Due up for Giants: Pence, Crawford, Gillaspie
Bottom Third: Javy Baez had quite a defensive inning, even if he had a web gem overturned by the umpires.
Baez made a diving grab to his right to scoop up a Denard Span grounder, then got up and made an off-balance throw to first that one-hopped to Anthony Rizzo. Span was originally called out, but umpires overturned the call.
Baez got revenge during the next batter, when Span was caught stealing after a perfect throw from David Ross and an athletic tag by Baez.
The next two hitters went down in order.
End third: Cubs 1, Giants 1
Due up for Cubs: Rizzo, Zobrist, Russell
Top Third: David Ross hit a solo home run to lead off the third and tie the game at 1-1.
A 1-0 changeup from Matt Moore hung over the plate, and Ross connected for the homer to left field.
It was Ross’s second career postseason home run in 20 games.
The Cubs went down in order after that, including strikeouts by John Lackey and Kris Bryant.
Middle Third: Cubs 1, Giants 1
Due up for Giants: Span, Belt, Posey
Bottom Second: John Lackey escaped a jam here in the second after giving up back-to-back singles to Conor Gillaspie and Joe Panik.
He struck out Gregor Blanco looking and then got Matt Moore on a grounder to first.
Are the Cubs bats ready to wake up yet? Onto the third looking for their first hit.
End second: Giants 1, Cubs 0
Due up for Cubs: Ross, Lackey, Fowler
Top Second: Matt Moore retired the Cubs in order with three straight flyouts.
The Cubs now have two base hits in their last 23 batters going back to the ninth inning Monday.
Middle second: Giants 1, Cubs 0
Due up for Giants: Crawford, Gillaspie, Panik
Bottom First: Buster Posey hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field with one out in the first to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead over the Cubs.
Denard Span led off the inning with a double to right, then advance to third on a flyout by Brandon Belt.
The Giants’ lead represented the first time in this series that they scored first.
End first: Giants 1, Cubs 0
Due up for Cubs: Russell, Heyward, Baez
Top First: The Cubs didn’t record a hit in the top of the first, but there was one good sign: Anthony Rizzo drew a walk.
It was the first time Rizzo has reached base during the four games of this series so far.
Giants starter Matt Moore struck out Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant, then ended the inning with a groundout of Ben Zobrist.
Veteran starter John Lackey is taking the mound for the Cubs tonight. It’s his 21st start in the postseason.
Middle first: Cubs 0, Giants 0
Due up for Giants: Span, Belt, Posey
There’s not much else to say about the Cubs’ Monday night loss. The 13-inning playoff became an instant classic, but may only be remembered if the Giants come back to win the series.
Let’s not go there yet. Let’s just get to the tape.
And remember, links to all of the Sun-Times coverage of the Cubs can be found here: http://chicago.suntimes.com/section/cubs-baseball/
John Lackey (11-8, 3.35) will take the mound for the Cubs, and Matt Moore (13-12, 4.08) will be his opposite for the Giants.
1. Dexter Fowler, CF; 2. Kris Bryant, 3B; 3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B; 4. Ben Zobrist, LF; 5. Addison Russell, SS; 6. Jason Heyward, RF; 7. Javy Baez, 2B; 8. David Ross, C; 9. John Lackey, P
1. Denard Span, CF; 2. Brandon Belt, 1B; 3. Buster Posey, C; 4. Hunter Pence, RF; 5. Brandon Crawford, SS; 6. Conor Gillaspie, 3B; 7. Joe Panik, 2B; 8. Gregor Blanco, LF; 9. Matt Moore, P