Wild Game 5 win sends Cubs to NLCS
WASHINGTON — Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, who endured a rough series behind the plate, caught the third strike and pumped his fist.
Chicago closer Wade Davis, asked to get the last seven outs, leaned over in front of the rubber and appeared to give thanks.
The Cubs, in a game that lasted nearly five hours, will have a chance to defend their National League championship.
Addison Russell had two hits and four RBIs, and Chicago scored four runs off Max Scherzer in the fifth inning to beat the Washington Nationals 9-8 on Thursday in the fifth and deciding game of the NL Division Series.
“I think the bats have been there the whole series,” Russell said. “It’s just balls fell tonight, back and forth, the whole ballgame. It was a great ballgame.”
The Nationals had a chance to tie the game in the eighth, but backup catcher Jose Lobaton, who entered the game for starter Matt Wieters, was picked off first by Contreras for the last out after reaching on a single.
“We didn’t play a very good game,” said a dejected Dusty Baker, the Washington manager. “We had a lot of opportunities.”
The winning pitcher was Cubs reliever Brian Duesning (1-0), who recorded two outs without giving up a run. Davis allowed one run but survived 44 pitches for his third save of the series.
“We needed to chip away,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, whose team fell behind 4-1 early on. “And then once we got into the bullpen, I thought anything was possible.”
The Cubs advance to play the Dodgers on Saturday in Los Angeles in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.
Washington has lost in the first round of all four of its playoff showings since 2012.
The game featured 15 walks and three wild pitches.
“It’s very disappointing, not to be going to L.A., not go home and see my family and play in Dodgers Stadium and go to the next step,” said Baker, a former Dodgers star who grew up in California.
Russell hit an RBI double in the sixth to give the Cubs an 8-4 lead. The Nationals scored two in the bottom of the sixth as Jayson Werth came home on a wild pitch and Daniel Murphy added an RBI double to make it 8-6.
The Cubs’ Kris Bryant drove in a run in the seventh on a fielder’s choice to make it 9-6. The Nationals challenged that Jon Jay’s slide into Murphy at second amounted to interference, but the call stood. Bryce Harper drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Michael A. Taylor had an RBI hit in the eighth to make it 9-8.
Taylor also hit a three-run homer in the second inning. He drove in four runs for the second game in a row, as he hit a grand slam Wednesday at Chicago.
Taylor became the first player in major league history to drive in at least four runs in consecutive postseason games.
Jay led off the game with a double that stood after a reply challenge. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Anthony Rizzo.
The Nationals scored four in the second inning as Murphy led off with a homer, and later in the inning Taylor hit a three-run shot to left to make it 4-1.
In the third, the Cubs trimmed the lead to 4-3 as Russell drove in a run on a grounder, and another run scored on a wild pitch.
Chicago then scored four runs in the fifth off Washington ace Scherzer, who took over after Matt Albers threw a scoreless fourth.
Russell had a two-run double and scored on a throwing error by Wieters. Scherzer (0-1) then hit Jay with a pitch with the bases loaded with two outs to make it 7-4.
Washington starter Gio Gonzalez allowed three runs in three innings. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks went four innings and gave up four runs on nine hits.
NOTES: Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez, who started Thursday, also started Game 5 of the NL Division Series at home in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals. ... Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks, the Thursday starter, was the Game 1 starter of the series and started Game 7 of the World Series last year against the Cleveland Indians. ... Washington 2B Daniel Murphy, who homered in the second, hit four homers off the Cubs in the 2015 NLDS when he played for the New York Mets.