NEWS

Javier Baez’s two homers force Game 5 against Dodgers


CHICAGO — Breaking down Game 4 of the NL Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field:

Cubs 3, Dodgers 2: Dodgers lead the series, 3-1.

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The game: With the Cubs facing elimination due in part to the struggles of their bullpen this October, Jake Arrieta stifled the Dodgers’ bats and kept the Cubs’ World Series hopes alive for at least one more day. In what could prove his final start for Chicago, the former Cy Young winner and free-agent-to-be held Los Angeles to one run on three hits and five walks across 6 2/3 innings. He left the game after issuing a pair of free passes in the seventh, walking off the mound while tipping his cap to a loud ovation from the home crowd. 

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Lefty Brian Duensing relieved Arrieta and got Cody Bellinger to pop out, ending the threat. 

Willson Contreras started the scoring for the Cubs in emphatic fashion with a 491-foot homer off the left-field videoboard in the second. Javier Baez, who entered the night 0-for-20 in the 2017 postseason, followed Contreras with a second-inning homer of his own. In the fifth, Baez’s second homer of the night extended the Cubs’ lead to 3-1.

In the first postseason start of his career, Alex Wood kept the Cubs off the bases but could not keep them in the park. He struck out seven and issued no walks across 4 2/3 innings, but three of the four hits he allowed were home runs. 

The Dodgers’ bullpen again shut down the Chicago offense in the game, with Ross Stripling, Tony Watson and Kenta Maeda following Wood. 

All of the runs in the game came on solo homers. Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner hit the Dodgers’ pair. 

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Man of the moment: Arrieta wasn’t by any means at his sharpest — the five walks were one shy of a season-high for the righty — but he negotiated his way out of trouble and provided the innings the Cubs needed to keep their bullpen liabilities off the mound. If Wednesday’s game does prove Arrieta’s last on the North Side, he’ll finish his Cubs career with 68-31 record, a 2.73 ERA, and a fairly large debt of gratitude to Theo Epstein and the Chicago front office for stealing him away from Baltimore in 2013 and reinvigorating his career.  

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Manager’s special: With the majority of his relievers suddenly unreliable, Joe Maddon turned to closer Wade Davis for a two-inning save attempt. Davis, making his first appearance of the series, allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in Justin Turner. Davis then walked Yasiel Puig and got Andre Ethier to pop out before a bizarre sequence of events that got Maddon ejected from the game.

After what looked like — and was initially ruled — a swinging strike three to Curtis Granderson, the umpires conferred and concluded that Granderson had tipped the ball into the dirt. But a replay airing on the Wrigley Field videoboard during the very umpire conference in question showed no evidence whatsoever that Granderson contacted the ball. Foul tip calls are non-reviewable, and when the umpires decided to extend Granderson’s at-bat, Maddon understandably lost it. With Davis’ pitch count escalating, the manager endeavored a prolonged argument with the officiating crew that included gesturing toward the videoboard still showing the replay. 

After Maddon got his money’s worth, Granderson struck out anyway. 

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Needing a mulligan: Though the Cubs won the game, Anthony Rizzo endured yet another miserable night at the plate in what has been a nightmarish postseason for the Cubs’ slugger. The three-time All-Star entered the game with a .167 batting average and a .542 OPS in the playoffs to date, then went 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts against Dodgers pitching. 

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What you missed on TV: Before the wild eighth-inning foul tip call and ensuing chorus of boos, the loudest moment of the series to date at Wrigley Field came when beloved ex-catcher turned ‘Dancing With The Stars’ contestant David Ross appeared on the videoboard in the middle innings Wednesday. Ross, who homered off Andrew Miller in the Cubs’ Game 7 victory in the 2016 World Series, was introduced as a “Legend of the Game.” 

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State of the series: The Dodgers will try to close out the NLCS behind ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 on Thursday. Jose Quintana will start for Chicago. 

Gallery: Best of the 2017 LCS

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