Chicago Cubs force a Game 5 as Jake Arrieta shines at Wrigley

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Jake Arrieta /

In what may have been Jake Arrieta‘s final start with Chicago Cubs, the veteran hurler twirled a gem, extending his team’s season at least one more day.

It was simple for the Chicago Cubs. Win or go home.

For at least one more night in 2017, the Cubs remained as defending World Series champions, the W flag soared above Wrigley Field, and it was vintage Jake Arrieta on the mound, as the right-hander stifled the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 to force Game 5 Thursday.

Final swan song?

In what may have been his final start as a member of the Cubs, Arrieta made his second start of the postseason and looked like the pitcher Cubs fans have grown accustomed to, striking out four through two innings.

For the night, he threw 6 2/3 strong, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out nine and worked around five walks.

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Alex Wood made his first start for the Dodgers since Sep. 26 against the Padres. It was his first postseason start. He previously pitched in relief in the postseason, including last year against the Cubs in the NLCS.

He threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, all via solo homers. Wood did not walk a batter as he struck out seven.

Let’s play long ball

Willson Contreras launched a rocket to the moon in the second inning to give the Cubs a fourth-consecutive lead in the series via the long ball. The home run hit the video board in left field.

Moments later Javier Baez launched his first postseason hit, a home run to snap a 0-for-20 postseason skid dating back to Game 7 of the World Series last year. He later hit his second home run in the fifth inning.

By the skin of your teeth

Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner hit solo shots for Los Angeles, as the two teams combined for five solo homers.

That, however, would be it. Arrieta was lights-out, the offense did just enough to rise to the occasion, and the bullpen, capped off by Wade Davis, closed it out. The Chicago closer nailed down the final six outs.

Wednesday was Chicago’s first win this postseason in which they hit a home run. All their runs scored in the NLCS have come via the home run, and they have scored first every game. The Cubs have now won five potential elimination games since 2016.

The Dodgers entered Game 4 of the NLCS on a six-game winning streak, a franchise record and two shy of the big-league record set by the Kansas City Royals in 2014. Joe Maddon was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a foul tip on Curtis Granderson, which replays showed was not the case.

Wade Davis had his first at-bat since the 2015 World Series, and second since 2013. He struck out, but not before fouling off consecutive pitches to the delight of the crowd. L.A.’s bullpen allowed just one hit over the final two-plus innings.

What’s next

The Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers will do it again for Game 5 at Wrigley Field. Clayton Kershaw looks to pitch his team to the World Series while Jose Quintana hopes to send things back to Chavez Ravine.

First pitch is at 7:08 pm C.T.