On the verge of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers will need to wait at least another night. Javier Baez hit two home runs and the Chicago Cubs held on for a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Offensively, the Cubs relied on the same recipe from the first three games of the series but it this time was enough to solve the Dodgers, who had yet to lose in the postseason. Just as they had in Games 1, 2 and 3, the Cubs were first to score.
It came on a Willson Contreras booming home run that clanked off the video board in left-center field. Two batters later, Baez golfed a homer down the left-field line to snap an 0-for-20 skid. Baez’s second homer of the night came in the fifth inning and snapped Alex Wood’s string of eight consecutive batters retired.
Wood didn’t have as much rust as one would expect in his first time pitching since Sept. 26, but his velocity sat at 89-90 mph. Wood struck out seven and allowed four hits over 4.2 innings of work.
In tune with what’s held true for the entire NLCS, the Dodgers immediately responded to falling behind, this time on Cody Bellinger’s line-drive solo home run to right field in the third inning. Opportunities against Jake Arrieta otherwise were few and far between.
He went 6.2 innings, with just the one run allowed, recording an out in the seventh inning of a postseason start for the first time since the 2015 NL Wild Card Game. Even with that, and nine strikeouts, Arrieta’s command was hardly spotless as he issued five walks and hit a batter.
The right-hander exited with some traffic on the bases in the seventh due to walks of Yasmani Grandal and Chris Taylor. That Arrieta managed to pitch that deeply into the game was a boon for the beleaguered Cubs bullpen.
Brian Duensing retired Bellinger to end the threat, and Wade Davis was then called on for a six-out save in his NLCS debut. Davis promptly surrendered a home run to Justin Turner and walked Yasiel Puig.
He retired Andre Ethier and Curtis Granderson, walked Grandal but struck out Chase Utley to strand the tying and go-ahead runs. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ decision to not pinch-hit Austin Barnes for Utley may have ultimately cost the team.
Davis expended 34 pitches in the eighth, which did make for a strenuous situation in the ninth inning. With Barnes having entered in the bottom of the eighth in a double switch, he led off in the ninth but struck out looking on three pitches.
Davis walked Taylor but induced Bellinger into a double play to close out the game. Although it came in a loss, the Dodgers bullpen again answered the bell.
Ross Stripling, Tony Watson, Kenta Maeda, Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields combined for four strikeouts over 3.1 scoreless innings, with just one hit allowed.