CHICAGO -- To beat the Giants, all the Cubs needed was their pitchers to hit. Thanks to Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood, Chicago is now one win away from advancing to the National League Championship Series for the second straight year.Hendricks, the Major Leagues' ERA leader, smacked a two-run single
CHICAGO -- To beat the Giants, all the Cubs needed was their pitchers to hit. Thanks to Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood, Chicago is now one win away from advancing to the National League Championship Series for the second straight year.
Hendricks, the Major Leagues' ERA leader, smacked a two-run single and Wood added a solo home run to lift the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Giants on Saturday night in Game 2 of the NL Division Series at Wrigley Field.
:: NLDS: Giants vs. Cubs coverage ::
"Now we go to San Francisco, and we're going to play for one more win," said Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, who picked up his second save of the NLDS with a two-strikeout, 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The odds are against the Giants. Only seven times in 53 tries has a team gone down 0-2 in a Division Series and rallied to win. The glimmer of hope for San Francisco is that it has won each of its last nine elimination games, and it's an even-numbered year for the 2010, '12 and '14 World Series champions. Game 3 of the best-of-five series will be played Monday night at AT&T Park, 9:30 ET/8:30 CT on FS1.
"It's tough to lose two here, but it's a case that we have been down this road before," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's never easy with us, so we're hoping to get one here, but now we go home and you keep fighting. That's all you can do."
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The Cubs want to end the NLDS Monday.
"It's a must-win," Chicago's Anthony Rizzo said. "We're going in there and we're trying to win that game at all costs. That's what we did today; that's what we did [Friday]. That's what we're going to try to do Monday."
Hendricks matched his season RBI total, but he didn't get the win, as he had to leave the game after taking a line drive by Ángel Pagán off his right forearm with two outs in the fourth. The hit had an exit velocity of 94 mph, according to Statcast™. X-rays were negative.
"When it first hit me, I didn't really feel it in the moment. I just tried to recover and make the play," Hendricks said. "Once I started throwing off the mound, it just started tightening up on me. The X-rays were negative though, so hopefully it's just a day-to-day thing. I'll see how I feel over the next couple days."
• Hendricks has forearm contusion; X-rays negative
Wood replaced Hendricks, and in the bottom of the inning, crushed his 10th career home run to open a 5-2 lead. Cubs pitchers have driven in more runs (three) than the Giants (two) in the first two games of the series.
"It happened pretty quick. It always does in a situation like that," Wood said. "As a bullpen guy, you're always prepared, especially with Joe [Maddon], for any situation, anything that pops up, so you kind of keep your body and your mind locked into the game. So I was ready to come in. And then the at-bat, it was just I figured he was probably going to start me out with a cutter and I made a good swing on it and was fortunate enough to get him and hit it out of the park."
San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija also exited early, but for different reasons. The right-hander, who pitched for the Cubs from 2008-14, was knocked out after serving up four runs on six hits over two innings.
"It's a great lineup," Samardzija said of his former team. "I think they're tops in most of the categories offensively in the league. You've just got to go out there and make your pitches. They're not giving away any cheapies. They make you work for it, and we saw it tonight."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pitchers who rake: Wood will do whatever Maddon asks, even playing left field in a game this season so he could stay in to pitch. The lefty was the first one the Cubs called on when Hendricks had to leave, and in his first at-bat with one out in the fourth, Wood launched the first pitch from George Kontos into the left-field bleachers. He's the third Cubs pitcher to homer in the postseason, joining Kerry Wood (2003) and Rick Sutcliffe (1984). And Wood is the first relief pitcher to homer in the postseason since Rosy Ryan did so for the Giants in the 1924 World Series.
"He's been outstanding. We lean on him a lot as you can see just based on appearances," Maddon said of Wood. "When he's right, he's good against both lefties and righties. And he's been getting back to that point right now. He's also a leader in the clubhouse. People don't even talk about Travis, but a lot of guys go to him for different issues. They lean on Travis a lot."
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Keep the line moving: The last time Samardzija faced the Cubs, on Sept. 1, he needed 47 pitches to get through the first inning. This time, the Cubs made him throw 21 as they opened a 1-0 lead on Ben Zobrist's two-out RBI single, driving in Dexter Fowler, who doubled to lead off. Jason Heyward doubled to lead off the second, Javier Báez walked and Willson Contreras singled to load the bases for Hendricks, who lofted a single to right-center. Hendricks' single was a picture-perfect blooper. It had an exit velocity of 72.2 mph and a launch angle of 24 angles. Batted balls with similar traits were hits 100 percent of the time this season.
One out later, Kris Bryant added an RBI single for a 4-0 lead. Hendricks batted .138 this season, driving in a total of two runs in 58 at-bats.
"We wanted to make him throw strikes and make him put the ball in the zone, and that's what happened," Fowler said of the Cubs' approach against Samardzija.
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Leaky defense? Not all of the Cubs' hits in the three-run third inning were completely clean. Hendricks' single appeared catchable before it dropped in front of Denard Span. Bryant's liner appeared destined to end up in right fielder Hunter Pence's glove. It did, but it squirted out.
"I love the responsibility. I love that it falls on my shoulders. I love my job. The pressure is on, but I can handle that pressure. I understand the city and the fans are hyped, but I love that." -- Chapman, on pitching the ninth inning
• 104! Chapman blazing record Statcast™ path
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Giants got the better of it when they challenged Baez's sixth-inning double, claiming that he didn't make constant contact with the bag as shortstop Brandon Crawford was tagging him. Replays showed they were correct, and the initial safe call was overturned.
Giants: San Francisco will return home to AT&T Park, where it will put its nine-game winning streak in postseason elimination games on the line in Monday's Game 3. The Giants have the ideal pitcher scheduled to work, as postseason hero Madison Bumgarner will take the ball for the 6:30 p.m. PT start, live on FS1.
Cubs: After a workout day Sunday, the series resumes Monday at AT&T Park. Jake Arrieta will start Game 3 in his favorite state. The right-hander is 4-0 in starts in California this season, and that doesn't include his no-hitter in August 2015 at Dodger Stadium. Arrieta went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA this season. First pitch is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CT, live on FS1.
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Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.
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.