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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.

Attempting to complete cycle, Robinson Chirinos thrown out to end game

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With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.

Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.

The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.

Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.