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Cubs escape elimination, defeat Dodgers 3-2 in NLCS Game 4

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The Cubs took the first step towards recovery in the NLCS, defeating the Dodgers 3-2 in Game 4 on Wednesday night. They now trail the series 3-1 and must win their next three games in order to avoid elimination and return to the World Series.

Starter Jake Arrieta didn’t show elite control, but limited the damage. His only blemish was a solo home run to left field off the bat of Cody Bellinger in the third inning, which cut the Cubs’ lead at the time to 2-1. It was the only run he allowed over 6 2/3 innings. He gave up three hits in total along with five walks and nine strikeouts on 111 pitches. Those may have been his final pitches in a Cubs uniform as the right-hander is a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series.

The Cubs got all of their offense on solo home runs. Willson Contreras and Javier Baez combined for a pair in the bottom of the second against Dodgers starter Alex Wood. Baez victimized Wood again with a solo shot in the fifth.

Brian Duensing got the final out of the seventh in relief of Arrieta, getting Bellinger to fly out with runners on first and second. Wade Davis took over in the eighth and made Cubs fans bite their nails, serving up a leadoff home run to Justin Turner. He then walked Yasiel Puig, putting the tying run on base. Andre Ethier, however, popped up and Davis appeared to strike out Curtis Granderson, which led to some drama including another ejection for manager Joe Maddon. After an overturned call that gave Granderson new life at the plate, Davis completed the strikeout. He got out of the inning by striking out Chase Utley.

Davis hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth, which meant he was coming out for a second inning having thrown 34 pitches. During the regular season, he threw 30-plus pitches just four times in 59 appearances. (He did throw 44 in Game 5 of the NLDS.) In the ninth, Davis struck out Austin Barnes, then walked Chris Taylor to put the tying run on base once again. He bounced back, getting Bellinger to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game, giving the Cubs a 3-2 victory to stay alive.

The NLCS continues on Thursday with an 8 PM ET start at Wrigley Field.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.