Cubs beat Nats in 9-8 nailbiter to advance to NLCS

After scoring just eight runs in the first four games of the National League Division Series, the Cubs beat the Nationals 9-8 in a high-scoring nailbiter to advance to their third straight National League Championship Series on Thursday night.

Running on fumes at the end of a nearly five-hour game and nearly out of available pitchers, Wade Davis threw 42 pitches and the last 2 1/3 innings.

Davis, having already thrown more than 30 pitches as he entered the ninth inning, faced the top of the Nats lineup and retired the side in order. He struck out Bryce Harper to end the game.

The two teams combined to throw 14 pitchers. The Cubs turned a 4-1 deficit into an 8-4 advantage and managed to hang on as the Nats crept closer. They scored at least a run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after a double hit by Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Addison Russell went 2 for 4 with a double and four RBI.

Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks lasted four inning and gave up four runs on nine hits. Nats starter Gio Gonzalez made it through only three innings and allowed three runs.

The Cubs will face the Dodgers in the NLCS. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles.
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Top of Ninth

The Cubs went down in order against Nats reliever Sean Doolittle.

Now the Cubs need three more outs to reach the NLCS, but they’re going to have to earn it. The Nats have scored at least one run in each of the last three innings, and the Cubs are running out of pitchers.

Who will Joe Maddon go with? Wade Davis has already thrown 27 pitches, and Maddon’s only other options are John Lackey and Justin Wilson.

And, oh yeah, the Nats have the top of the order up.

Here we go…

Cubs 9, Nationals 8, Middle of Ninth

Due up for Nats:

1. Turner 2-5
2. Werth 1-2, 3 BB, R
3. Harper 2-3, R

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Bottom of Eighth

Michael A. Taylor strikes again…

He stroked a single back up the middle off Wade Davis in the eighth inning to score Daniel Murphy. Taylor’s fourth RBI of the night made it a one-run game at 9-8.

Willson Contreras helped Davis out of the jam by picking off Jose Laboton at first base. The Nats had two runners on against leadoff hitter Trea Turner before the final out.

Lobaton was originally ruled safe, but Joe Maddon challenged the ruling and the call was overturned. Nats manager Dusty Baker was visibly angry.

The Cubs are now three outs away. They have only John Lackey and Justin Wilson left in the bullpen, and would do well to put up a few runs in the ninth.

Cubs 9, Nats 8, End of Eighth

Due up for Cubs:

7. Heyward 0-3, R
8. Martin 0-0
1. Davis 0-0
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Top of Eighth

As the clock ticked past midnight in D.C., Ryan Madson threw a 1-2-3 inning to mark the third time the Cubs have gone down in order tonight.

Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist grounded out, and Madson struck out Russell to end the inning.

Cubs closer Wade Davis is back on the mound, and he may be in this game until it’s over.

Cubs 9, Nats 7, Middle of Eighth

Due up for Nats:

5. Murphy 2-3, HR
6. Rendon 1-3, 1B, R
7. Wieters 2-4, R

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Bottom of Seventh

Joe Maddon is now on his seventh pitcher, calling for Wade Davis to finish off the seventh and get the Cubs out of the jam.

Bryce Harper hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded off Jose Quintana to bring the Nats within two runs, 9-7.

Carl Edwards Jr. started the inning and walked Michael A. Taylor. He was then replaced by Quintana, who got an out before allowing a single and walk to load the bases for Harper.

Davis, the third pitcher of the inning, struck out Ryan Zimmerman to retire the side.

And, speaking of pitchers, read Steve Greenberg’s article on Kyle Hendricks’ outing today: Now that’s different: Hendricks gives himself the early hook in Game 5

The Cubs are six outs away from winning this game, but it feels far from over….

Cubs 9, Nationals 7, End of Seventh

Due up for Cubs:

4. Contreras 1-2, 2 BB, 1B, 2 R
5. Zobrist 1-1, BB, 1B, 2 R
6. Russell 2-3, 2 2B, R, 4 RBI
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Top of Seventh

The Cubs need to hold a three-run lead for nine more outs after scoring an insurance run in the top of the seventh to take a 9-6 lead.

With runners on the corners, Kris Bryant beat out a double play ball to allow Kyle Schwarber to score from third.

Schwarber, pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot, launched a single off the wall to lead off the inning.

Carl Edwards Jr., who has struggled in this series, is in to keep the Nats at bay in the bottom half of the inning.

Cubs 9, Nats 6, Middle of Seventh

Due up for Nats:

8. Taylor 1-3, HR
9. Madson 0-0
1. Turner 1-4
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Bottom of Sixth

The Nationals aren’t giving up on this game yet.

Daniel Murphy hit an RBI double, and Jayson Werth scored on a wild pitch as the Nats fought back to within two runs of the Cubs in the sixth. The Nats still trail 8-6.

The Nats left the bases loaded in the inning. Matt Wieters flew out to deep right field to end the threat.

The Cubs are now nine outs away from their third straight NLCS appearance, but they’ll want some insurance runs the way this game is going. And Carl Edwards Jr. is warming up in the bullpen…

Cubs 8, Nats 6, End of Sixth

Due up for Cubs:

8. Baez 0-3
9. Montgomery 0-0
1. Jay 1-3, 2B, R
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Top of Sixth

Addison Russell drove in his fourth run of the game with a double to left that Jayson Werth seemed to lose in the lights to give the Cubs an 8-4 lead.

As Werth dove forward to make the catch, the ball flew just over his glove and past him into left field.

The play was ruled a double, which scored Ben Zobrist all the way from first.

The Cubs have now scored seven unanswered runs.

The Nationals decided not to stick with Max Scherzer in the inning, opting instead for Brandon Kintzler. Kintzler walked Zobrist with two outs to set up Russell’s RBI.

Cubs 8, Nats 4, Middle of Sixth

Due up for Nats:

9. Kintzler 0-0
1. Turner 1-3
2. Werth 2-3, 2B
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Bottom of Fifth

Brian Duensing and Pedro Strop combined to keep the Nats off the scoreboard in the fifth.

Duensing gave up a leadoff walk to Daniel Murphy but got the next two batters out, including a strikeout to Matt Wieters.

Strop struck out Michael A. Taylor to end the inning.

The Nationals are not going to stick with Max Scherzer in the sixth, bringing in right-hander Brandon Kintzler.

Cubs 7, Nats 4, End of Fifth

Due up for Cubs:

3. Rizzo 0-3
4. Contreras 1-1, 2 BB, 1B, 2 R
5. Zobrist 1-1, R

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Top of Fifth

The Cubs had no fear of Max Scherzer and it showed during a four-run fifth inning.

After getting the first two batters of the inning out, Scherzer and the Nats gave up nearly every sort of baserunner. Willson Contreras reached on an infield single, Addison Russell doubled, Jayson Heyward was intentionally walked, and Javy Baez reached on a dropped-third strike.

Russell’s double scored two runs to put the Cubs back in front. Russell scored from second on Baez’s dropped-third strike.

Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella reached on catcher’s intereference, and Jon Jay drove in a run by getting hit with a pitch.

When the dust settled, Scherzer had given up four runs — two earned — on three hits and a walk.

The Cubs, who batted around, loaded the bases for the third time in this game.

Brian Duensing is on to pitch for the Cubs.

Cubs 7, Nationals 4, Middle of Fifth

Due up for Nats:

5. Murphy 1-2, HR
6. Rendon 1-2, single, R
7. Wieters 2-2
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Bottom of Fourth

Kyle Hendricks gave up two more singles in the fourth, but the Nationals couldn’t do anything with the baserunners.

The bigger news right now: Max Scherzer is on his way to the mound for the Nationals in the fifth.

Scherzer was dominant in Game 3 but still ended up the hard-luck loser.

He’ll face the heart of the Cubs lineup to kick things off in the fifth.

Nationals 4, Cubs 3, End of Fourth

Due up for Cubs:

2. Bryant 1-2, 2B, R
3. Rizzo 0-2
4. Contreras 0-0, 2 BB, R

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Top of Fourth

Matt Albers came on in relief of Gio Gonzalez and pitched a 1-2-3 inning against bottom of the Cubs order. The Cubs still trail by a run, 4-3.

Javy Baez and Kyle Hendricks grounded out to shortstop, and Jon Jay popped out to short.

Final line on Gonzalez: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K

Nationals 4, Cubs 3, Middle of Fourth

Due up for Nats:

9. Albers 0-0
1. Turner 1-2, single
2. Werth 1-2, 2B
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Bottom of Third

Hendricks came just shy of his first 1-2-3 inning of the game, allowing a two-out single to Matt Wieters. Hendricks got Michael A. Taylor to pop out to end the inning.

Wieters now has two hits in the game, his only hits of the series.

Hendricks’ line through 3: 3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR

Nationals 4, Cubs 3, End of Third

Due up for Cubs:

8. Baez 0-1
9. Hendricks 0-1
1. Jay 1-2, 2B, R

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Top of Third

The Cubs scored two runs in the third to narrow the gap to one run as they trail the Nats 4-3.

Addison Russell grounded out with the bases loaded to drive in the first run, and Willson Contreras scored on a wild pitch.

The inning marked the second time this game that the Cubs have loaded the bases, and they’ve scored three runs for their efforts.

Jason Heyward struck out swinging at ball four with the tying run on third.

Nationals 4, Cubs 3, Middle 3rd

Due up for Nats:

5. Murphy 1-1, HR
6. Rendon 1-1, single
7. Wieters 1-1, single

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Bottom of Second

Michael A. Taylor cranked a three-run home run to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead and cap a four-run second inning.

Kyle Hendricks started the inning by giving a first-pitch home run up to Daniel Murphy that tied the game 1-1.

Anthony Rendon singled to right-center, and Matt Wieters — the slowest player on the field — bunted safely down the third-base line.

After a visit from pitching coach Chris Bosio, Hendricks gave up the three-run homer to Taylor.

It was Taylor’s second home run in as many at-bats after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 4.

Hendricks gave up four runs and three extra-base hits in the inning, prompting the Cubs to get Jose Quintana warming up in the bullpen.

Nationals 4, Cubs 1, End of Second

Due up for Cubs:

2. Bryant 0-1, strikeout
3. Rizzo 0-1, RBI
4. Contreras 0-0, BB
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Top of Second

How badly will the Cubs regret not posting a few more runs with the bases loaded in the first?

Gio Gonzalez appears to have settled down in the second, notching two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning.

With Max Scherzer available out of the bullpen, who knows how many more chances the Cubs will have with runners in scoring position? And given the way this series is going, one run might have to be enough.

Cubs 1, Nats 0, Middle Second

Due up for Nats:

5. Murphy 0-0
6. Rendon 0-0
7. Wieters 0-0
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Bottom of First

Javy Baez came up big on defense — what else is new? — to save a run and preserve the Cubs’ early 1-0 lead.

Trea Turner reached on an infield single to lead off the inning, and he stole second and tagged up to reach third with one out.

Joe Maddon brought the Cubs infield in, and Baez scooped up a groundball from Bryce Harper and threw a strike to Willson Contreras to punch out Turner at home.

Kyle Hendricks struck out Ryan Zimmerman to end the inning.

Cubs 1, Nationals 0, End of first

Due up for Cubs:

8. Baez 0-0
9. Hendricks 0-0
1. Jay 1-1, 2B, R
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Top of First

The Cubs got the kind of start they needed in Game 5 of the NLDS, taking the edge off and scoring a run to take a 1-0 lead.

But they left the bases loaded and could have broken the game wide open.

Anthony Rizzo drove in Jon Jay with a groundout to the right side. It was the first Cubs run since Game 3.

Jay led off the game with a double to right and reached second on a wild pitch by Gio Gonzalez. The errant breaking ball was about two feet off the plate.

Gonzalez looked a bit shaky after the run scored, too, walking Willson Contreras and Addison Russell and allowing a single to Albert Almora. He got Jason Heyward to ground out to end the inning.

Matt Albers was warming in the bullpen during the final at-bat of the frame. Gonzalez threw 26 pitches in the first.

Cubs 1, Nationals 0, Middle First

Due up for Nationals:

1. Turner 0-0
2. Werth 0-0
3. Harper 0-0

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If the Cubs are going to win Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals on Thursday, they’re going to have to do it with Ben Zobrist coming off the bench.

The veteran multipurpose player was notably absent from the Cubs lineup. With the Cubs on the brink of elimination, Joe Maddon put Albert Almora Jr. in center field, shifting Jon Jay to left field.

Left-handed hitters Jason Heyward and Jay didn’t face Gonzalez in Game 2, but will have their chance against him now. The Jay, Almora, Heyward gives the Cubs a solid defensive alignment.

Maddon named Kyle Hendricks as the team’s starting pitcher on Wednesday.

The Professor has proved himself multiple times that he can handle these must-win scenarios. After helping the Cubs win the World Series last year, Hendricks made his 2017 postseason debut Friday in Game 1 of the NLDS, leading the Cubs to a 3-0 win. He threw seven scoreless innings, striking out six batters.

“He does a good job of getting you in between,” Nats catcher Matt Wieters said.  “We’ll probably need to do a better job of being aggressive on a pitch we’re looking for and not kind of worry about trying to hit both his fastball and a changeup, because he plays them both off each other well.

“So being committed is huge against him, and hopefully we can learn from the first game and take a step forward.”

The Nationals named Hendricks’ rival pitcher for the high-stakes game: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez.

“We weighed it out … but everybody is on call,” manager Dusty Baker said. “And you know, Gio had gone Game 5 a couple years ago and didn’t do too well so I’m sure redemption is on his mind as well.”

Baker said Game 3 starter Max Scherzer will be available for two innings as a backup weapon for the Nationals.

“Max had the backpack on like the bullpen groupie guys do,” Baker said. “Probably filled with candy and bubblegum — I don’t know what they have in there. Looks kind of weird, Max getting ready to go to school again.”

The forecast calls for drizzle and light rain, with temperatures around 60 degrees at gametime (7:08 p.m. CST).

The left-hander started Game 2 in Washington for the Nationals. Gonzalez gave up a two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo, but that didn’t affect the outcome as Nationals went on to beat the Cubs 6-3.  In Saturday’s outing, Gonzalez allowed three hits and had three errors in five innings before getting substituted.

As history states, Gonzalez doesn’t have much luck in the postseason. The Nationals have lost three of the four games he’s started in October.

Here’s the Cubs lineup:
Jon Jay LF
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Willson Contreras C
Albert Almora Jr. CF
Addison Russell SS
Jason Heyward RF
Javy Baez 2B
Kyle Hendricks P

Here’s the Nationals lineup: 
Trea Turner SS
Jayson Werth LF
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Matt Wieters C
Michael Taylor CF
Gio Gonzalez P

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