MORRISSEY: On a desperate night, finally signs of life from the Cubs

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The Cubs’ Willson Contreras heads home after he hit a home run against the Dodgers in the second inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday.(Steve Lundy/Daily Herald via AP)

For three games, the Cubs had just lain there, collective belly up, a team doing a decent imitation of a pitcher’s mound. If you had held a mirror under their nose, there wouldn’t have been any fogging.

But now? Life. Actual signs of life.

It’s only one game, and the Cubs still trail the Dodgers 3-1 in the National League Championship Series, but it’s something. And something is better than the nothing they had been offering up so meekly.

If it is the start of something, credit Willson Contreras and Javy Baez for being the instigators. The Cubs’ 3-2 victory was fueled by two home runs by Baez, a man who hadn’t been able to buy a hit in the postseason, and another by Contreras that would have traveled an estimated 491 feet had it not hit the left-field video board at Wrigley Field.

Those three solo shots woke up a crowd of 42,195, and, possibly, a proud team. Was it enough? Was it in time? Impossible to say. Which Clayton Kershaw will the Cubs get in Game 5 Thursday night – the dominant regular-season pitcher for the Dodgers or the pedestrian postseason pitcher? The only thing riding on it is everything.

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For now, enjoy the return of the team that won 92 games in the regular season and three games in an NL Division Series.

Enjoy Jake Arrieta’s wild, good-enough victory Wednesday – one run, three hits, five walks, nine strikeouts, one wild pitch and one hit batter. I think he was trying to collect them all. There’s a good chance it was his last appearance in a Cubs uniform, and he gave them all he had when they needed it most. When he left the game in the seventh, a standing ovation followed him to the dugout.

Enjoy Contreras’ bomb, which looked more like a missile launch than a home run. He certainly enjoyed looking at it for a long time before he started running, and you couldn’t blame him for it.

Tense moments? Of course there were. The Dodgers’ Justin Turner crushed a home run to left field in the eighth off closer Wade Davis to cut the lead to 3-2. What, you thought this would be easy? Cubs manager Joe Maddon got tossed later in the inning when home plate umpire Jim Wolf said a swing and a miss by the Dodgers’ Curtis Granderson was a foul tip. Replay clearly indicated that Wolf is blind. Davis struck out Granderson anyway.

“If Granderson had hit the next pitch out, I might have come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap,’’ Maddon said.

Talk about a save.

Davis got out of the inning by striking out Chase Utley.

On his 48th pitch of the night, an ungodly number for a reliever, Davis got Cody Bellinger to hit into a double play to end the game.

Cubs fans were allowed to breathe again.

“They’re the world champs, and you know they’re going to fight until the end,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

A day after Kris Bryant had said some of the Cubs looked tired, his team found enough energy to stay alive in this series. They hadn’t been able to hit. Their bullpen was a mess. And Maddon had had a number of his decisions ripped by a fan base looking for back-to-back World Series titles.

But after Wednesday night’s victory, a repeat is still a possibility. An extremely remote possibility, but it’s an upgrade after the first three games.

“It’s a win or go home,’’ Arrieta said. “I had that mindset that I was going to make it into tomorrow. And we scrapped up enough offense to get it done.”

The Cubs had only five hits, but three of them were home runs. So, yeah, no problem.

“Don’t forget the heartbeat,’’ Maddon had said earlier in the year, a reminder that baseball is about the people swinging the bats and not just the statistics describing their swings. But feel free to apply the heartbeat theme to a team that didn’t seem to have one left.


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