Giants

Cubs pull off epic comeback, move on to face Dodgers in NLCS

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Cubs pull off epic comeback, move on to face Dodgers in NLCS

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — The Chicago Cubs win whenever they need to, with whatever it takes, even a seven-out save by Wade Davis to preserve a shrinking lead and a "Did that really happen?" four-run inning against Washington's Max Scherzer in a thriller of a Game 5.

That wild, bat-around fifth inning Thursday night for Chicago included Addison Russell's go-ahead two-run double, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, and a disputed dropped third strike followed by a throwing error, helping the defending World Series champion Cubs come back — and then hold on — to edge the Nationals 9-8 and reach the NL Championship Series for the third year in a row.

Russell drove in a total of four runs, and Davis, Chicago's seventh pitcher, turned in his longest appearance since 2012. The Cubs trailed 4-1, then led 8-4 and 9-6, in a game that lasted more than 4½ hours and ended after midnight on Friday.

Catcher Willson Contreras picked off Jose Lobaton at first base to quash a Washington threat in the eighth and Davis fanned a swinging Bryce Harper for the final out.

Chicago, which surpassed its total of eight runs in the first four games of the NL Division Series, advanced to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will start ace Clayton Kershaw at home in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night.

For manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs, this was their fourth consecutive victory in a win-or-be-eliminated postseason game. That includes three straight to end the 2016 World Series, when Chicago trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 before forcing a Game 7 won by the Cubs in 10 innings.

The Nationals, meanwhile, went one-and-done yet again: This is the fourth time in the past six years that the club won the NL East and immediately lost its opening playoff series. And this is the third time in that span that Washington bowed out with a Game 5 NLDS loss at home; that also happened in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals and last year against the Dodgers.

This one was played exactly five years to the day after the decider against the Cardinals, which the Nationals lost 9-7 in Washington. Just like that night, the Nationals started Gio Gonzalez. Just like that night, Washington raced out to an early lead (6-0 back then). And just like that night, Gonzalez had control problems and started giving back some of the edge.

Homers by Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor — whose grand slam off Davis backed Stephen Strasburg's 12-strikeout masterpiece in Washington's 5-0 victory in Game 4 at Wrigley Field on Wednesday — gave the hosts a 4-1 lead in the second against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks.

But Gonzalez gave back two of those runs, so it was 4-3 as two-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer entered for the fifth. He started Game 3 of this series, pushed back because of an injured right hamstring, and hadn't come out of the bullpen since 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.

By the time Scherzer's one inning was over, the Cubs had taken a 7-4 lead. They scored two earned runs and two unearned runs, on the strength of three hits, one hit by pitch, one intentional walk, a catcher's interference, and one very odd play.

What could have been a potentially inning-ending strikeout turned into a run, as Javier Baez swung and missed, but the ball went under catcher Matt Wieters' glove and through his legs. When Wieters collected the ball, he threw it into right field for an error, then appeared to argue that the play should have been ruled over because Baez's follow-through carried the bat into the catcher's mask.

Russell made it 8-4 in the sixth on an RBI double when left fielder Jayson Werth tried to make a sliding catch but whiffed. The lead was 9-6 when Washington got one run in the seventh on Harper's sacrifice fly, and one in the eighth on Taylor's RBI single.

But the Nationals wasted some opportunities. In the eighth, with two on and no outs, pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit into a double play. Later in that inning, again with two men aboard, Lobaton was nailed by Contreras' snap throw for the third out — Lobaton was originally ruled safe, a call that was overturned on replay.

In the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman was up as the go-ahead run with two men on, but Davis struck him out. That was part of an 0 for 4, three-K night for the first baseman who had a resurgent season, leading the Nationals with 36 homers and 108 RBIs.

That season is over for him and his team. The Cubs, though, will play on.

Bobby Evans dismissal hard to swallow for Giants clubhouse

Bobby Evans dismissal hard to swallow for Giants clubhouse

SAN FRANCISCO — About 20 minutes before players took the field for batting practice on Monday, the man who signed so many of them got in a car and headed home to tell his family he was no longer the general manager of the Giants. 

Ownership relieved Bobby Evans of his duties in the afternoon. Hopefully an executive who lived and breathed Giants for 25 years took a night off from watching them. The team lost 5-0 to the Padres, getting shut out by Bryan Mitchell, who entered with an ERA that started with a six. 

Before the game, manager Bruce Bochy met with Evans one final time.

“I thanked him for all his help. Bobby and I spent even more time together the last couple of years but he’s always been around and been helpful,” Bochy said. “Twenty-five years here, that shows you the continuity we have in San Francisco. He did a lot for the organization. I was glad I had a chance to talk to him before he left.”

There have been rumors for weeks, and when strength coach Carl Kochan was let go, the clubhouse became all too aware that two poor seasons on the field would lead to plenty of changes. Still, this was hard for some to swallow. 

Evans put this team together and believed in the group, and his fingerprints are all over the roster. He negotiated with free agents like Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, signed non-roster invitees like Dereck Rodriguez and Derek Holland and traded for players like Will Smith and Sam Dyson. When Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and others got their extensions, Evans was the point man on the other side. When young players were called up this season, Evans was often on the other end of the first call they received. 

“Obviously something like that is part of the business side of baseball, but it kind of sucks that somebody like Bobby or somebody behind the scenes like Carl loses his job because we didn’t perform on the field,” Crawford said. “That’s always tough.”

The Giants have now let go of their strength coach and general manager this month. More changes are expected. 

“Change is tough,” Bochy said. “You have relationships with everybody. It’s that time of year.” 

Giants shut out against Padres to kick off season's final homestand

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Giants shut out against Padres to kick off season's final homestand

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO  — Bryan Mitchell struck out seven in 8 2/3 strong innings, Jose Pirela had a homer among his three hits, and the San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-0 Monday night.

The Giants lost their fifth straight game hours after the team announced the dismissal of general manager Bobby Evans. The move comes amid a Giants team freefall.

San Francisco is four years removed from winning their fourth World Series championship in five years, and in the last week of its second consecutive losing season.

The Giants are 4-17 in September, and 166-225 since taking a 53-73 record (best in the majors at the time) into the 2016 All-Star break.

Mitchell (2-4) walked just three in what was by far his best start of an uneven season that included a stint on the DL with right elbow impingement.

In his last start on Sept. 17, he gave up four runs in five innings in a 4-2 loss to the Giants.

The 27-year-old right-hander came to the Padres in an offseason trade with the New York Yankees that also brought Chase Headley.

Mitchell had never thrown a complete game in his 19 previous career starts. He’d walked 40 in 64 1/3 innings going into Monday.

Mitchell was within a pitch of what would have been his first career complete game, let alone a shutout.

But with two on and two out in the ninth, Mitchell walked Gorkys Hernandez on his 118th pitch.

Andy Green then summoned Kirby Yates, who struck Austin Slater for the final out.

Jose Pirela homered off Giants starter Derek Holland (7-9) to lead off the fourth. His fourth homer gave the Padres a 3-0 lead.

Pirela has 26 hits and 13 RBI in his career against the Giants, more than against any other team.

Franmil Reyes had two hits and two RBI, and Wil Myers had two hits and two runs scored.

Francia Mejia doubled with one out in the top of the second and scored the game’s first run on Manual Margot’s single.

Reyes singled in a run in the third and Hunter Renfroe singled in a run in a two-run sixth inning off Ty Blach.

Holland gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings.

DIALED IN

The Padres have 19 home runs and 171 hits at AT&T Park since the start of 2017, more than any other visiting team over that stretch.

UP NEXT

LHP Robbie Erlin (4-7, 4.33 ERA) is 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) against San Francisco. RHP Chris Stratton (10-10, 4.88) is 2-3 with a 4.70 ERA in five games (four starts) against San Diego.