LOS ANGELES — The Cubs are headed to Chicago with a 3-2 series lead in the National League Championship series.
Seven innings of one-run pitching by ace left-hander Jon Lester, a tie-breaking homer by Addison Russell — his second in two nights — and a five-run eighth to put the Dodgers away highlighted the Cubs’ 8-4 victory Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
Game 6 is Saturday at Wrigley Field, with right-hander Kyle Hendricks facing the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. A win for the Cubs puts them in the World Series for the first time since 1945. A loss sets up Game 7 Sunday night at Wrigley.
Dodgers ninth: Aroldis Chapman pitches the ninth to wrap this one up. He doesn’t look engaged as he would in a save situation and works on his slider initially, throwing one on first pitch to Adrian Gonzalez and then walks him. After Yasiel Puig singled Gonzalez to third, a run scores on Joc Pederson’s fielders choice, and two more runs score on Josh Reddick’s single and Andrew Toles’ sacrifice fly. The Dodgers settle for two runs.
Cubs ninth: Addison Russell, who has a homer and infield single, leads off with a single, his fifth hit in two games. Cubs do not score.
Dodgers eighth: Pedro Strop came on to pitch the eighth in front of many empty seats at Dodger Stadium, and he got hit pretty hard — allowing two doubles but benefiting from a double-play ground ball. He gave up one run to make it 8-2 Cubs.
Cubs eighth: Javy Baez drove in three runs with a double against Ross Stripling, making it 8-1 but giving Cubs fans a scare as he hobbles back to second. Cubs training staff and manager Joe Maddon come out to check Baez, who says he is OK and stays in the game.
Baez’ shot off the right field wall capped a five-run inning. Addison Russell (reached on error) and Willson Contreras (single to right) opened the inning. After Albert Almora bunted them to second and third, Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant gets the runs in with infield singles.
Dodgers seventh: Jon Lester, who has thrown 95 pitches (59 for strikes), takes the mound with Adrian Gonzalez leading off and gets a big assist from second baseman Javy Baez, who adds another outstanding play to his highlight package. With Baez playing well behind the infield dirt, Gonzalez places a perfect bunt past Lester but Baez runs a long way, makes a barehand grab and gets Gonzalez by such a close margin it took a replay challenge to overturn a ‘safe’ call.
Lester puts up another goose egg, and his line looks like this: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 Ks. He has thrown 108 pitches.
Cubs seventh: With one out, Anthony Rizzo beat a shift with a bunt toward third base, and Ben Zobrist walked to set up a potential blow-it-open inning. But Javy Baez flied out and Jason Heyward fouled out to catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Dodgers sixth: With one out, Lester allows a single by Corey Seager that takes a high hop with top spin past first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He then gets cleanup hitter Carlos Ruiz on a foul pop to catcher David Ross before striking out Howie Kendrick. Ruiz is 0-for-17 against Lester during his career.
Through six, Lester has allowed four hits, one walk and has struck out six.
Cubs sixth: Addison Russell broke a 1-all tie with a home run to center field. Russell connected against reliever Joe Blanton with Javy Baez (single, stolen base) on second. Blanton has allowed three homers in this series, including Miguel Montero’s tie-breaking grand slam in Game 1 and Dexter Fowler’s solo shot that followed.
Six of the Cubs’ 21 runs in this series have come against Joe Blanton on homers.
Dodgers fifth: Lester is on his game. He retires the side in order in the fifth, striking out Andre Ethier and Kike Hernandez. Through five innings, Lester has walked one and struck out five while allowing three hits.
Cubs fifth: Kris Bryant bounced a Josh Fields curveball off the wall in center for a one-out double, turning center fielder Joc Pederson around on the well-hit smash. With that, manager Dave Roberts replaced Fields with lefty Grant Dayton to face Anthony Rizzo, and Dayton struck out Rizzo before Ben Zobrist lined out hard to right field to end the inning.
Dodgers fourth: The home team gets its first run as Howie Kendrick doubles down the third base line past a diving Kris Bryant, steals third and scores on Adrian Gonzalez’ grounder to first.
Bryant was playing in a bit for Kendrick, perhaps to compensate for left-hander Jon Lester’s fielding vulnerabilities, and just missed getting a glove on Kendrick’s hot smash. Kendrick got a big jump on the steal and was called out, but a replay challenged ruled in the Dodgers favor as Bryant was late with the tag. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, playing in with Gonzalez up, may have had a play at Kendrick but couldn’t glove the ball, settling for a flip to Lester for the out at first.
Cubs fourth: The Cubs get something going with a leadoff double by Javy Baez and a Jason Heyward hit-by-pitch. After starter Kenta Maeda strikes out Addison Russell and gets David Ross on a fly to center, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulls Maeda — with light-hitting Jon Lester up.
Meada exits with six strikeouts over 3 2/3, and Lester sends left fielder Howie Kendrick back to catch an inning-ending fly ball.
Dodgers third: Jon Lester was fired up after striking out tough hitter Corey Seager swinging on a 3-2 cutter below the strike zone. Lester appeared to have Seager called out with a well-located slider on the inside corner, but umpire Alfonso Marquez didn’t give him the call as Lester started walking for the dugout.
After getting the K, Lester stormed off and yelled in the direction of Marquez. Justin Turner, who singled and stole second, is stranded at second. Opposing hitters batted .065 with runners in scoring position against Lester.
Cubs third: After threatening to score multiple runs in the first and settling for one against Kenta Maeda, the Cubs haven’t done much with the right-hander, who sets them down in order. Maeda struck out Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist for his fourth and fifth strikeouts of the night.
Dodgers second: Lester gets a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Adrian Gonzalez on a called third strike the Dodgers lefty objected to, and Joc Pederson on a bunt attempt. Lester fielded the bunt on the third base side and made a weak one-hop throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to barely get Pederson.
The Dodgers are trying to exploit Lester’s defensive deficiencies. In the first, Kike Hernandez took a huge lead off first and danced around a bit, knowing Lester disdains the throw to first.
Cubs second: David Ross draws a walk with one out but Jon Lester flies to left and Dexter Fowler taps a slow roller toward pitcher Kenta Maeda for the third out.
Dodgers first: They threaten but do not score against Jon Lester, who walked leadoff man Kike Hernandez and gave up a one-out single to Corey Seager. Carlos flied to right and Howie Kendrick grounded out to third baseman Kris Bryant to keep the Cubs in front.
Cubs first: The Cubs on Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda for a quick run.
Dexter Fowler led off with a sharp single past Maeda, and after Kris Bryant flied to left, Anthony Rizzo doubled into the right-field corner to score Fowler. Fowler was running on the pitch and scored without a play. After Ben Zobrist walked, Maeda struck out Baez looking and got Jason Hewyard swinging to end the inning with no further Cubs damage.
Gametime temperature is 89 degrees.
The series is tied at two games apiece.
This will be the last game of the best-of-seven series at Dodger Stadium, with Game 6 and 7 (if necessary) at Wrigley Field on Saturday and Sunday following an off day Friday.
Dodgers retired broadcaster Vin Scully is in the house:
Dexter Fowler CF
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Javy Baez 2B
Jason Heyward RF
Addison Russell SS
David Ross C
Jon Lester P
Kike Hernández 2B
Justin Turner 3B
Corey Seager SS
Carlos Ruiz C
Howie Kendrick LF
Adrian González 1B
Yasiel Puig RF
Joc Pederson CF
Kenta Maeda P