SAN FRANCISCO – There were no goats for the Cubs Tuesday night.
Not John Lackey, not the bullpen, and not even the billy goat some Giants fans playfully led around the streets surrounding AT&T Park before Game 4.
The only goats in the ballpark were the ones Bruce Bochy kept rolling out of his bullpen in the ninth inning, as five relievers combined to cough up a three-run lead to give the Cubs a 6-5 win, wrapping up the National League Division Series for Chicago.
Javier Baez delivered the final blow to the Giants’ streak of even-year magic as his RBI single off Hunter Strickland capped the four-run frame that sent the Cubs into the NL Championship Series for the second straight year.
Chicago will host the winner of Thursday’s Dodgers-Nationals game in Game 1 Saturday at Wrigley Field.
For eight innings, it looked like the Giants would extend their own record and stave off elimination for an 11th consecutive time, taking a 5-3 lead into the final inning.
Jason Heyward scores the go-ahead run in the ninth as the Cubs will play in the NLCS for the second straight year.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
But Derek Law, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland combined to give up four runs, including a game-tying, two-run pinch-hit single by Willson Contreras and the game-winning hit by Baez.
Jason Heyward scored the final run, having reached when Brandon Crawford’s relay throw on a double-play attempt got by first base, allowing Heyward to reach second. An earlier error by Crawford helped Chicago score its second run of the game, too.
Aroldis Chapman, who blew the save in the eighth inning of Game 3, came back with a scoreless ninth, picking up his third save of the series.
A big sign on the side of AT&T Park read “BELIEVEN,” and after the way Game 3 unfolded, there was little reason for the Giants not to think they’re in the middle of something special.
“They’re the same always,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before the game when asked about his team’s attitude as they tried to stave off elimination yet again. “Their spirit, the mood, the tempo of the club, they don’t change. There’s work ahead of us.”
Aroldis Chapman gets redemption by closing out the series in Game 4 after blowing Game 3.
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
John Lackey was looking to put the Giants away, something he did 14 years ago as the Angels’ Game 7 starter against San Francisco in the World Series.
But the righthander was ineffective during his brief outing, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks in only four innings. The Cubs bullpen wasn’t much better, giving up a pair of runs in the fifth to extend San Francisco’s lead and give lefty Matt Moore some breathing room.
Moore held the Cubs to two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks over eight innings, striking out 10.
Five different Giants drove in runs including Game 3 heroes Joe Panik and Conor Gillaspie, the latter going 4-for-4 before his fairy-tale October came to an abrupt end.
The Giants struck quickly as Denard Span led off the first inning with a double, advanced to third on Brandon Belt’s fly out and scored on Buster Posey’s sacrifice fly.
Buster Posey and the Giants don’t have the even year magic this season.
David Ross tied the game in the third, belting a solo shot against Moore, who had not allowed a hit to that point.
The bottom of San Francisco’s lineup put the Giants back on top in the fourth, loading the bases on one-out singles by Gillaspie and Panik and a Gregor Blanco walk. Moore – who was 1-for-24 at the plate this season – singled in a run to break the tie, then Span beat out a potential double play ball, allowing another Giants run to score.
A three-base throwing error by Crawford in the fifth led to the Cubs second run, as Ross picked up his second RBI of the night with a sac fly.
Crawford atoned with a double high off the wall in right-center that missed being a home run by two inches, sparking a two-run inning that stretched the lead to three.
Even after the tough Game 3 loss, the Cubs weren’t making excuses or looking for scapegoats – or blaming actual goats – for the team’s latest postseason misfortune.
“I think the biggest thing is, nobody really cares in there about a curse or a goat or anything else,” Lester said. “It’s what you make of it. If we make a mistake, we’re not going to blame it on a curse or anything else like that. We’re going to blame it on ourselves and be accountable for it and move on to the next play or the next moment.”
That now comes Saturday thanks to their unlikely comeback.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News