Closer Wade Davis got the final seven outs as the Chicago Cubs edged the Washington Nationals 9-8 to reach the NL Championship Series where they will face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cubs, who ended their curse by winning the World Series last year, will meet the Dodgers for the second straight year with a berth in the World Series on the line.
“We came out with a win. This is really big,” said pitcher Davis. “Thank goodness that was the outcome.”
Addison Russell had two hits and four RBIs Thursday as the Cubs scored four runs off Nationals ace pitcher Max Scherzer in the fifth inning of the four hour, 37 minute marathon contest.
Davis was stellar as the Cubs closer, getting the final outs for his third save of the best-of-five series which Chicago won three games to two. Reliever Brian Duensing got the win for the Cubs who reached their third Championship Series in a row.
“I didn’t want to give anything to those guys,” Davis said. “Those are game change type hitters and they have a lot of power. I would rather get them on first base than give up any homers.”
The Cubs will face the Dodgers Saturday in Los Angeles.
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 scored on a wild pitch and Daniel Murphy added an RBI double to make it 8-6.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks went four innings and gave up four runs on nine hits.
Washington has lost in the first round of all four of its playoff appearances since 2012.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker was crushed by the loss.
“We didn’t play a very good game. They had far too many walks. That was one of weirdest games I have ever seen,” said Baker. “Just a series of bad events.”
Baker pulled starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez after the left-hander gave up three runs on three hits and walked four batters in just three innings of work.
“I was hoping Gio would go longer,” said Baker. “But you gotta do what you gotta do because Gio’s control was a little suspect tonight.”
The Nationals parade of pitchers out of the bullpen started with Matt Albers.
Michael A. Taylor 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.
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees picked right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, of Japan, to start Friday’s opener of the American League Championship Series against the host Houston Astros.
The Yankees announced their rotation on Thursday, one day after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game five of the AL Division Series.
Houston announced earlier in the week that left-hander Dallas Keuchel was its starter for game one.