Cubs edge Nats to advance in Major League Baseball playoffs

Stephen Strasburg shares a light moment with home plate umpire Cory Blaser during Game 1 of the NLDS in Washington

Eventually it had to, and the Cubs came out with a wild 9-8 win to survive the National League Division Series and live to fight another day.

Gonzalez started Game 2 of the series, also in Washington, and allowed three runs in five innings of what became a 6-3 victory for the Nationals.

"To come out after being sick like that and put together a game like that, it's fantastic", Taylor said. It saved closer Wade Davis some pitches, as he would get the final seven outs.

Strasburg is the only Nationals' pitcher that won't be available Thursday night. The only time other time they have been here was when current Nationals manager Dusty Baker was their manager in 2003 against the Atlanta Braves. When the game got rained out on Tuesday, the right-hander told the Nationals he would be willing to start Wednesday but wasn't sure how effective he could be.

And certainly not with the Nationals, whose history of blowing do-or-die games in the postseason is second to none. They did manage to load up the bases right after Rizzo's at bat, but they could not capitalize on it as Jason Heyward grounded out to first to end the frame. The Cubs needed to rev up their offense.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. Scherzer lasted just the one, throwing 28 pitches.

That statement is especially true for Washington, who didn't name a Game 5 starting pitcher Wednesday night. It scored Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist, who both looked buried in two-strike holes against the powerful Scherzer, whose fastball touched 98 miles per hour.

That inning would be far from over, however.

The Cubs were held to just three total hits in game four, which should come as no surprise as they came into the game hitting.179 as a team, according to ESPN.

The Nats had pulled out every stop before Game 5, including having the team priest bless the bats in the dugout. "It shows how 2-1 can be exciting". Jayson Werth got the rally going by working a full count and eventually drawing a walk off of Cubs reliever Pedro Strop.

The Cubs stayed with right-hander Jake Arrieta for Game 4, but manager Joe Maddon altered his lineup after the Nationals switched from Roark to Strasburg.

When Daniel Murphy homered off Hendricks to lead off the second and Taylor crushed a chin-high fastball into the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer, the crowd came alive.

The 7th inning brought even more drama. But if you thought the fun ended there, you would be very mistaken. Davis threw 44 pitches.

While there were plenty of actors to take the blame that frame, Wieters' gaffes loomed all the larger when the Nationals mounted an industrious comeback, but they could not keep pace with the Cubs. It wasn't enough, though, as Russell doubled home another run and Bryant beat out a double-play ball to plate one more. The following batter, Michael Taylor, shot a line drive up the middle for a base hit scoring one, and Jose Lobaton followed up with a liner up the middle of his own.

In a insane game in which both managers had to go to the bullpen early and often, the Cubs grabbed the lead with a four-run fifth off Max Scherzer and spent the rest of the night trying to hang on. The challenge at first was huge for the Cubs because with Davis running on fumes at that point, there's no knowing if he would have finished the inning or if he would have continued to allow Washington players to reach base.

Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who had been the focus of a pre-game drama about whether or not he would take the mound for the biggest game of his career, collected his first playoff triumph. Game 1 of the National League Championship Series takes place on Saturday, October 14 at 8 p.m. ET.

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