SAN FRANCISCO -- As soon as the Cubs got a lead in the ninth inning against the Giants on Tuesday night, manager Joe Maddon didn't hesitate to call on closer Aroldis Chapman coming off his rough outing the previous night.Chapman struck out Gorkys Hernández, Denard Span and Brandon Belt, needing
SAN FRANCISCO -- As soon as the Cubs got a lead in the ninth inning against the Giants on Tuesday night, manager Joe Maddon didn't hesitate to call on closer Aroldis Chapman coming off his rough outing the previous night.
Chapman struck out Gorkys Hernández, Denard Span and Brandon Belt, needing 13 pitches to seal the Cubs' 6-5 victory in Game 4 and clinch the National League Division Series. Chapman pitched in all four games, recording three of his four save opportunities. The one miss in Game 3 on Monday night is now forgotten.
"It was beautiful, man," Maddon said. "He was so focused. You could see he was not going to be denied. He did not like what happened [Monday] night. He was outstanding."
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On Monday, Chapman entered with two runners on in the eighth inning, and was only able to retire the first batter he faced before giving up an two-run triple and an RBI single. The Giants won, 6-5.
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"I'm very happy," Chapman said. "That was a very bad day for me [Monday], but I forgot about that because I knew what my focus was today, and that was to get this win."
The hard-throwing lefty closer, who joined the Cubs in July in a trade with the Yankees, was eager to make up for what happened on Monday.
"I knew what I had to do -- I had to get those three outs to erase everything from [Monday]," he said. "And once I got them, I was a very happy man. Now, we can go to the next step."
The next step for the Cubs will be a second straight trip to the NL Championship Series against either the Dodgers or Nationals. Game 1 will be Saturday on FS1, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
"It was a great bounce back for him," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said of Chapman. "He was awesome in that role. Let's face it, after you take that lead [in the ninth], you don't want any contact. That was perfect. He was awesome."
While Chapman was warming up, the Cubs mounted a four-run rally in the ninth to take the 6-5 lead.
"We were super excited," he said. "We wanted to get back that lead, and then I knew I had to do my job. I was cheering them on, helping my teammates get their attitude up so they could get the lead."
It's been a wild ride for Chapman, who is playing in the postseason for the third time in his career.
"I never thought I was going to leave the Reds," Chapman said, "but they traded me to a team with a long history like the Yankees, and then they traded me to a team with another long history, the Cubs. I'm just so happy for the chance to get this championship to Chicago."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.