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.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.