Cubs hold off the Dodgers in Game 4, avoid NLCS sweep

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs avoided being swept and their season will last at least one more day.

Despite not putting a single runner in scoring position until the eighth inning, the long ball saved the Cubs season after all three of their runs came via the solo homer. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts has seemed to push all of the right buttons so far in the postseason, but in Game 4, a questionable starting lineup and hesitation to use the bench may have cost the Dodgers a chance to sweep the Cubs.

The Dodgers threatened in the first after Justin Turner drew a two out walk and Yasiel Puig singled, but Cubs Starter Jake Arrieta struck out Andre Ethier to end the inning. Dodgers starter Alex Wood, who was making his first start of the postseason, made quick work of the Cubs with a 1-2-3 inning.

Nothing in the second inning for the Dodger offense quickly brought back out Wood in the bottom half of the second, and just like in Games 1, 2 and 3 the Cubs started the scoring with a solo shot. This time Wilson Contreras hit a mammoth home run off the scoreboard in left field. Wood struck out Russell and surrendered another home run, Javier Baez hit a solo homer to left, making it 2-0, for Baez it was his first hit of the postseason. Following the homer, Wood stuck out Jon Jay to end the inning.

The Dodger offense responded in the top of the third on a Cody Bellinger solo home run, his second of the postseason. That was all for the Dodgers in the third inning. After a shaky second inning, Wood rebounded with a quick 1-2-3 inning, leaving the score at 2-1 after three innings.

In the top of the fourth, the Dodgers wasted a one out walk to Yasmani Grandal was erased after Chase Utley grounded into an inning ending double play. A quick 1-2-3 inning by Wood in the fourth was matched by Arrieta with his own 1-2-3 inning in the top half of the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth the Cubs added another run on another solo homer by Javier Baez. Wood struck out Russell but allowed an Arrieta single which ended his night at 4.2 IP 3 ER 4 H 7 K 0 BB. Ross Stripling was brought in to replace Wood and made one pitch to end the fifth inning.

The Dodger offense continued to struggle against Arrieta, a leadoff single was put to waste after Arrieta forced Puig to ground into a force out, and strand him at first after striking out the next two batters. Stripling remained in the game for the Dodgers in the bottom half of the sixth, getting Kyle Schwarber to ground out and striking out Kris Bryant. With the lefty Rizzo up, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sent in the LHP Tony Watson to replace Stripling. Watson got the job done a struck out Rizzo to end the inning.

The Dodgers threatened again in the seventh, Grandal drew a leadoff walk, which was followed by a nine pitch at bat that ended in a strike out by Utley. Pinch hitter Joc Pederson grounded into a force out and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. Chris Taylor worked an 8 pitch walk, which ended Arrieta's night after 6.2 IP 1 ER 3 H 9 K 5 BB. LHP Brian Duensing replaced Arrieta and escaped the jam after getting Bellinger to fly out to left.

Kenta Maeda entered the game for the Dodgers in the bottom of the seventh, and he continued to shine in his new relief role, a quick 1-2-3 inning to retire the Cubs in the seventh was just what the Dodgers needed.

For the first time in the series, Cubs manager Joe Maddon finally used his closer Wade Davis for a potential six out save. Turner greeted Davis with a monster solo homer off the scoreboard in left field, making it a 3-2 game. Puig followed the homer by drawing a walk. Davis rebounded after getting Ethier to foul out and striking out Curtis Granderson. A two out walk to Grandal brought up Utley with the tying run on second. Davis was able to strand the runners and escape the jam after striking out Utley.

The Dodgers sent in LHP Tony Cingrani for the ninth inning, Cingrani started the inning by hitting Jay on a 1-2 count. Davis stepped up to the plate, making his first plate appearance since the 2015 World Series, Davis made Cingrani work, but eventually struck out on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Jason Heyward grounded into a forceout after a Albert Almora Jr. singled to left. Cingrani was replaced by RHP Josh Fields to face the right handed hitting Bryant. Fields got the job done getting Bryant to ground out to second to end the inning and strand Jay at third base.

After making 34 pitches in the eighth inning, Davis remained in the game for the ninth. After replacing Grandal at catcher in the eighth, Austin Barnes struck out on three pitches in his first at bat of the game. A one out walk by Taylor brought up Bellinger, in the regular season Bellinger led the league with 18 home runs in the seventh inning or later. On Davis' 47 pitch of the night, Davis forced Bellinger to ground into a double play to end the game.

Game 5 of the NLCS is on Thursday night in Chicago. The Cubs will send Jose Quintana to the mound and the Dodgers will counter with their ace Clayton Kershaw as they still only need one win to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1988.