Baez homers twice as Cubs live to fight another day
Javier Baez came alive in Game 4 after being relatively quiet for most of the postseason. (Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Baez homers twice as Cubs live to fight another day

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO — While there is no statistic currently in place to determine just how important the home-run ball is to a team's offensive productivity, if there were, that number would be particularly high for the 2017 Chicago Cubs. Living and dying by way of the home-run ball since April, the Cubs are still relying heavily upon it in the postseason, and their playoff stint was extended because of the home-run ball in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 thanks to three solo home runs, the Cubs, who accrued just five hits overall on the night, won a game dominated by home runs, with all five runs coming via long balls. Neither team amassed more than five hits, but the Cubs just happened to hit one more of the four-bag variety.

The Cubs jumped all over Dodgers starting pitcher Alex Wood in the second inning, with second baseman Javier Baez and catcher Willson Contreras both going deep on solo bombs to put the Cubs up 2-0. The first homers of the series for both hitters, the jacks rattled Wood, who lasted only 4.2 innings.

For the Cubs, starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was anything but rattled. Known for coming up big in elimination games, Arrieta played his part well on the night, throwing 6.2 innings of three-hit ball with nine strikeouts to his name. Arrieta's lone blemish came in the top of the third, when Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, who has been a Cub killer this series, answered the bell with a round-tripper over the wall in right field.

Thereafter, a pitching duel commenced, with Wood not struggling again until he gave up another home run to Baez in the fifth. A 380-foot moonshot to left, the homer by Baez made him just the fifth Cub to ever experience a multi-homer game in the playoffs and the first since Aramis Ramirez did so in 2003.

In the top half of the seventh, Arrieta enabled a runner to move into scoring position with a wild pitch, and after an ensuing walk, he was pulled from the game to a rousing ovation from the Cub faithful. Arrieta earned the win on the night to become 1-1 this postseason. Chicago reliever Brian Duensing then entered the game and quickly ended the threat, but he was replaced by closer Wade Davis to begin the eighth, setting the stage for Davis to collect a six-out save.

Davis got off to a rocky start, giving up a leadoff home run to Game 2 hero Justin Turner of the Dodgers. Davis then walked L.A. right fielder Yasiel Puig, putting the tying run on base. With one out, a controversial situation came to be, and, for the second time in this series, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing with the umpires about it.

In a strange series of events, Curtis Granderson of the Dodgers appeared to strike out swinging, but, after the home plate umpire called him out, Granderson appealed to him that he had foul tipped the pitch. Thereafter, the third-base umpire overruled by call, and Granderson was given new life. Maddon, who was livid over the reversal, was ejected for an ensuing tirade.

It essentially did not matter, though, as Davis struck Granderson out on the very next pitch and escaped the inning without giving up any more runs. Davis then put a bow on the 3-2 win by earning the save in the ninth, which was highlighted by a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Avoiding the sweep, the Chicago Cubs earned a right to play at Wrigley Field once more this series in a must-win Game 5 tomorrow night in the Windy City, as the Dodgers, who lead the series 3-1, will have another opportunity to advance to the World Series.

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