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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.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.