CHICAGO (AP) Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.
As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.
Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
”We have to be much more offensive,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”It’s got to start happening tomorrow. We’re going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow.”
Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .
Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.
Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.
Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.
Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
”They’re the world champs, and you know they’re going to fight to the end,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. ”So today, they did. We got beat today.”
Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.
”I just need to take a step back and see what’s going on,” he said.
Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.
Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.
Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.
And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.
All seven of Chicago’s runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.
”Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow,” Baez said. ”But I feel like we’re still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we’re going to be the best again.”
Contreras’ 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.
Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting ”Javy! Javy!” for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.
No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.
Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.
”Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye, it’s a thank you, obviously,” Arrieta said. ”I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that’s where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there.”
Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago’s rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year’s drought-busting championship run.
Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.
Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.
A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.
”The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short,” Turner said. ”We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did.”
Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.
”So other guys got to do it,” Maddon said. ”We have to be much more offensive. It’s got to start happening tomorrow. We’re going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow.”
Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs’ runs coming on homers in the series: ”That’s fine. A run’s a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I’ll take that, too.”
Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.
Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.
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