Cubs defeat Nationals in Game 5 to reach NLCS

xxx starting pitcher xxx throws against the xxxx in Game 5 of baseball's National League Division Series, at Nationals Park, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In a suspense-filled game that lasted well over four hours, the Chicago Cubs kept alive their dreams of a repeat with a wild 9-8 victory over the Washington Nationals in the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS. And on a night that saw both teams exhaust many of their available options in the bullpen, Cubs closer Wade Davis recorded the game’s final seven outs to keep the reigning World Series champions alive.

The Cubs opened up the scoring in the top of the first inning, with Anthony Rizzo’s RBI groundout driving in Jon Jay. Washington would respond in the bottom of the second inning, with Daniel Murphy hitting a solo home run to lead off the inning and center fielder Michael A. Taylor hitting a three-run shot to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.

The home run was Taylor’s second in as many days, as his grand slam blew open Washington’s 5-0 victory in Thursday’s Game 4 to force a fifth game in the series.

Chicago would score two in the top of the third to trim the margin to one run, with an Addison Russell RBI groundout being followed by a Gio Gonzalez wild pitch that allowed catcher Willson Contreras to score. Joe Maddon’s team would then take the lead for good in the top of the fifth, scoring four runs in the frame.

A Russell two-run double was followed by a Matt Wieters throwing error, which allowed Javy Baez to reach second base after striking out and Jason Heyward to score. And with the bases loaded Jay was hit by a pitch, forcing home another run.

Russell’s double to left in the sixth inning extended the Cubs’ lead to 8-4, with the Nationals beginning their rally in the bottom half of the frame. After a wild pitch allowed Jayson Werth to score, Murphy’s RBI double cut the margin to 8-6. However, Ryan Zimmerman was unable to score from first on the hit and he would ultimately be left stranded on third base.

Chicago tacked on another run, one that would eventually be the game-winner, in seventh inning as Kyle Schwarber scored on a Kris Bryant fielder’s choice. Washington scored one on a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly in the seventh and another in the bottom of the eighth on a Taylor RBI single. But that would be as close as Dusty Baker’s team would get, with Jose Lobaton being picked off at first base for the final out of the eighth inning.

Davis, who pitched 2.1 innings to pick up the save, would retire Turner, Werth and Harper in order in the bottom of the night to close out the game.

Next up for the Cubs are the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Game 1 of the NLCS set for Saturday in Los Angeles.

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