The Los Angeles Dodgers went into Game 5 of the National League Championship Series hoping to agitate Jon Lester with their approach at the plate and on the bases in the pivotal swing game.
The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, jumped on Kenta Maeda to take an early lead. Dexter Fowler opened the game with a base hit, and he raced around to score on Anthony Rizzo’s double down the right-field line.
Ben Zobrist drew a walk to put two on with one out, but Maeda got out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. Albeit on a taxing 26 pitches.
Kiké Hernandez squared around to bunt on three of four pitches he saw and drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first. He immediately began to work on Lester, taking large leads at first base.
Hernandez stayed put and advanced only on Corey Seager’s flare single into center field. Carlos Ruiz’s deep fly ball put runners on the corners, where they were stranded by Howie Kendrick.
Maeda worked around a one-out walk to David Ross in the second inning to keep the Dodgers’ deficit at 1-0. Lester retired the side in order in the bottom half of the inning, which included him making the play on a Joc Pederson bunt-single attempt for the third out.
Although Lester’s throw to first was far from accurate, he glared into the Dodgers dugout prior to walking off the field. After a 1-2-3 third inning, Maeda immediately ran into trouble in the fourth.
A hanging curveball was lined by Javier Baez off the short wall in left field for a leadoff double. Maeda hit Heyward with a pitch on a 1-2 count, then retired Addison Russell and Ross. Although Lester was up next, Maeda was not allowed to remain in the game.
The Dodgers turned to Josh Fields, who induced an inning-ending fly out. Kendrick pulled a one-out double by a diving Kris Bryant in the bottom of the fourth, and soon after stole third base. Kendrick was initially ruled out, however the Dodgers this time benefitted from replay.
Even with the Cubs infield playing on the edge of the grass, the Dodgers had the contact play on. It paid off as Rizzo bobbled Gonzalez’s grounder, allowing Kendrick to score. Bryant lined a one-out double over Pederson’s head, twice turning him around.
Grant Dayton got the Dodgers out of the inning by retiring Rizzo and Zobrist. Lester picked up a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth en route throwing a 1-2-3 inning. With one out and Baez on second base, Russell deposited a hanging slider from Joe Blanton into the center-field pavilion.
Lester worked around a Seager one-out base hit in the bottom of the sixth to keep the Cubs’ 3-1 lead intact. Baez made a barehanded play to rob Gonzalez of a leadoff bunt single in the seventh. However, the Cubs needed to challenge the ruling to get the call overturned.
Pederson singled with two outs, only to be stranded by pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal. Again, the Dodgers had another baserunner take a large lead without ever attempting to steal second base. Further rendering their attempt to disrupt Lester a moot point.
Russell’s check-swing put Pedro Baez and Gonzalez in a tough spot and resulted in Russell reaching on an error. Wilson Contreras’ broken-bat single put two on with nobody out in the eighth.
A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, and Fowler’s infield single scored a run, extending the Cubs’ lead to 4-1. Bryant’s broken-bat RBI infield single piled onto the Dodgers’ frustration. Baez was removed after walking Zobrist to load the bases with two outs.
Ross Stripling allowed a three-run double to Javier Baez before managing to get out of the inning. Pedro Strop gave up a leadoff double to pinch-hitter Andrew Toles and hit Justin Turner with a pitch to put two on in the eighth.
After Seager grounded into a double play, Ruiz hit an RBI double before Strop could get out of the inning. Despite their comfortable lead, the Cubs called on Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth.
Gonzalez drew a walk and Yasiel Puig lined a single into right field to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Josh Reddick’s pinch-hit RBI single trimmed the Dodgers’ deficit to 8-3 with one out. Toles drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, then Chapman retired Turner to end the game.