Miguel Montero’s pinch-hit grand slam broke a 3-all tie in the eighth inning, Dexter Fowler followed with a home run on the next pitch against right-hander Joe Blanton, and the Cubs erupted for an 8-4 victory Saturday over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs bullpen blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning for Jon Lester, who pitched six innings of one-run ball. Closer Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run, tying single to Adrian Gonzalez before the Cubs rallied in the bottom of the inning.
Montero, who connected on an 0-2 slider, hit the third pinch grand slam in postseason history. It was the catcher’s first hit in almost two weeks.
Dodgers ninth: Hector Rondon entered to protect a five-run lead and allowed an RBI double to Andrew Toles before Chase Utley lined into a double play to end the game.
Cubs eighth: Montero’s slam to right field against Blanton with two outs in the eighth inning, a 402-foot shot, broke a 3-all tie and gave the Cubs a 7-3 lead. Fowler followed with a home run to make it 8-3, and Wrigley Field shook.
Here’s how the inning went down: Ben Zobrist led off with a double against Blanton. After Addison Russell grounded out to third, Zobrist holding at second, Jason Heyward was intentionally walked.
The Wrigley Field crowd starts chanting “Javy, Javy” during the walk to Heyward, but Baez popped out to short right field. Chris Coghlan pinch hit with runners on first and second but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts chose to intentionally walk him and load the bases for Montero.
Dodgers eighth: Adrian Gonzalez’ two-run single with the bases loaded against Aroldis Chapman ties this one at 3.
Chapman, the Cubs closer, entered with nobody out and the bases loaded and struck out Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig before Gonzalez delivered the tying blow. Yasmani Grandal grounded out to shortstop Addison Russell to end the inning.
Here’s how the Dodgers got there: Pinch-hitter Andrew Toles singled against Mike Montgomery, pinch-hitter Chase Utley walked against Pedro Strop and Justin Turner reached on an infield single to third baseman Kris Bryant’s backhand.
Rather than attempt a long throw across the infield, Bryant tried to outrun Toles to third but Toles got there first with a head first slide.
Cubs seventh: It’s a routine one for Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling, who gets Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in order.
Dodgers seventh: Left-hander Travis Wood takes over for Jon Lester, protecting a 3-1 Cubs lead. Manager Joe Maddon is playing the matchup game, going to right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. after Wood retires the left-handed hitting Gonzalez on a grounder to second.
As Edwards warms up to “Big Poppa,” the attendance is announced: 42,376. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts counters with left-handed hitting Grandal for Carlos Ruiz, and Edwards strikes him out. But he walks Kike Hernandez, and Maddon goes to the pen again — for lefty Montgomery to face the left-handed hitting Joc Pederson.
The Daily Double — Bob Dernier and Ryne Sandberg, the 1-2 hitters on the Cubs’ 1984 team that lost to the Padres in the NLCS — sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” after Montgomery strikes out Pederson.
Cubs sixth: It’s more of the Javy Baez show, as the second baseman dumps a liner down the right-field line against Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez for a one-out double. Baez had a bloop RBI double in the second against Kenta Maeda and stole home for the Cubs’ third run.
Lester’s effective night is over after only 77 pitches. Jorge Soler pinch hit for him, grounding out with Javier Baez on second for the third out of the inning.
Lester’s line: 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 BB, 3 K, 77 pitches.
Manager Joe Maddon turns this one over to the bullpen.
Dodgers sixth: Jon Lester retires Justin Turner (short fly to right), Corey Seager (strikeout) and Yasiel Puig on a diving stop by first baseman Anthony Rizzo for a quick 1-2-3 inning at an important juncture of this game. Manager Joe Maddon had Carl Edwards and Mike Montgomery warming in the bullpen even though Lester’s pitch count was in the 70s, but they were not needed.
Cubs bats have been quiet since the second inning. But their gloves have been cooking, with that Rizzo play and two gems by center fielder Dexter Fowler.
Bottom fifth: The Dodgers bring in right-hander Pedro Baez to pitch. He walks the first batter he faces, Kris Bryant. But Anthony Rizzo strikes out for the second time, Ben Zobrist pops out and Addison Russell strikes out. The last 16 Cubs batters have not had a hit, although four have reached on walks.
Top fifth: Andre Ethier, pinch-hitting for pitcher Kenta Maeda with two outs and nobody on base, homered to left field against Jon Lester to cut the Cubs lead to 3-1. Lester’s five-inning line: 1 run, 4 hits, 1 BB, 2 K.
Bottom fourth: In what would be his last inning, Maeda settled in a bit after a rough start. He struck out Dexter Fowler to end the inning, and the Cubs, who lead 3-0, haven’t had a hit since Javier Baez’ bloop double in second. Maeda has walked a Cub in each of the last three innings, however.
Top fourth: Dexter Fowler is diving all over the field tonight. He ends a perfect inning for Jon Lester by stretching out in left-center field to rob Carlos Ruiz of extra bases. Fowler’s uniform is already grass-stained from his first diving catch, and it marks the sixth Dodger retired in order by Lester — who has pitched four scoreless innings.
Bottom third: The Cubs do not score for the first time against Maeda. After Ben Zobrist’s one-out walk, Addison Russell and Jason Heyward hit into fielder choice groundouts.
Top third: Two putouts for center fielder Fowler in a 1-2-3 inning through the top of the Dodgers’ lineup for Lester, including a diving catch on Justin Turner’s liner toward right center. Lester has pitched three scoreless innings, allowing three singles and a walk.
Bottom second: Jason Heyward led off with a triple into the right field corner and scored on Javier Baez’ bloop double in front of left fielder Howie Kendrick to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda, who had a fine regular season, continues to struggle of late. His wild pitch sent Baez to third, and Baez then stole home.
A steal of home? Indeed. Baez looked like he was caught off third too far when Jon Lester squared to bunt, but when Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz threw to third, he bolted for home and beat third baseman Justin Turner’s throw to the plate. That made it 3-0.
Baez,who is having a fabulous postseaso, is the 19th player to steal home in the postseason and the sixth to do it in the Wild Card era.
Top second: The Dodgers put three runners on base against Cubs starter Jon Lester in the second inning but did not score. Pitcher Kenta Maeda singled between third and short with two outs but left fielder Ben Zobrist threw out Adrian Gonzalez out at home to end the inning. Catcher David Ross was waiting at home for Gonzalez when the throw easily beat the slow-footed Gonzalez.
Gonzalez led off with a single and advanced to second on a walk to Kike Hernandez.
First inning: Kris Bryant lined a double off the left-field wall, scoring Dexter Fowler from first, as the Cubs drew first blood against the Dodgers.
Fowler singled to center against Kenta Maeda leading off the bottom of the first inning. Fowler owns a .483 OPS leading off games this season.
The Cubs had a chance to add on but settled for one run as Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist flied out to left field and Addson Russell tapped a grounder back to Maeda to end the inning.
Jon Lester recorded three ground-ball outs, allowing one hit — a two-out single to center by Corey Seager — in the top of the first.
Before the game, former Cubs right-hander Rick Sutcliffe, who pitched in the 1984 and 1989 NLCS, threw out the ceremonial first pitch:
Underway: The Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are under way as they open the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field. Game time temperature was 72 degrees for Lester’s first pitch. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, which started at 7:08 p.m., is being broadcast on FoxSports1 and 670-AM.
The Cubs, who won a major league best 103 games during the regular season, the most by a Cubs team since winning 104 in 1910, advanced by defeating the San Francisco Giants three games to one in the NLDS. The Dodgers defeated the Nationals in five games.
Here are the starting lineups for Game 1, with Lester starting for the Cubs against Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda.
Howie Kendrick LF
Justin Turner 3B
Corey Seager SS
Yasiel Puig RF
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Carlos Ruiz C
Kike Hernandez 2B
Joc Pederson CF
Kenta Maeda P
Dexter Fowler CF
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Addison Russell SS
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Baez 2B
David Ross C
Jon Lester P