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3 keys for Cubs to keep their season going

Club staying positive with Arrieta set to take mound in Game 4
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

CHICAGO -- In a quiet clubhouse following the Cubs' 6-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, first baseman Anthony Rizzo quipped that perhaps the Cubs should let Los Angeles score first in Game 4. After all, Chicago took an early lead in each of the series' first three games, only to lose all of them.

NLCS Game 4: Tonight, 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on TBS

View Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- In a quiet clubhouse following the Cubs' 6-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, first baseman Anthony Rizzo quipped that perhaps the Cubs should let Los Angeles score first in Game 4. After all, Chicago took an early lead in each of the series' first three games, only to lose all of them.

NLCS Game 4: Tonight, 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on TBS

View Full Game Coverage

Only one Major League team -- the 2004 Red Sox -- has ever returned from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. But the Cubs have stormed out of holes in the past, most notably winning last year's World Series after trailing three games to one.

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"We've won four games in a row before," third baseman Kris Bryant said. "Obviously it's going to be a tougher road, but hey, it will make the story that much better. Could you imagine that? I think this is the team that could do it."

Dress for the NLCS: Get Cubs postseason gear

With respect to Rizzo's let-them-score-first strategy, there are less radical ways for the Cubs to achieve a comeback. Here are three reasons why they can:

1. The right man is on the mound

In four and a half seasons with the Cubs, Jake Arrieta is best-known for his performances on the biggest, brightest stages. Manager Joe Maddon reminisced about Arrieta's career highlights before Game 3, in particular the five-hitter the veteran right-hander threw in the 2015 NL Wild Card Game.

"You pretty much knew if you scored one or two runs, you'd win that night somehow," Maddon said.

With respect to Kyle Hendricks' consistency and Jon Lester's postseason acumen, there is no one the Cubs would rather have on the mound in a must-win game than Arrieta.

"He's a big-game pitcher, and [Wednesday] we need him," Rizzo said. "We need him to go deep. I'm confident in Jake throwing a lot of shutout innings."

2. They can hit Alex Wood

Bryant, who collected two hits in Game 3, is 3-for-8 with a double, a home run and two walks lifetime against Wood, and Javier Baez is 2-for-5. Rizzo is 2-for-12, but both hits went for extra bases.

These admittedly aren't huge samples. But they give the Cubs hope of knocking Wood out early, neutralizing some of Los Angeles' bullpen advantage in the process.

"This offense is sooner or later going to break out," Rizzo said, "and tomorrow's a new day."

It's also worth noting that Wood hasn't pitched since Sept. 26 due to the Dodgers' breezy run through the NL Division Series. When asked about the layoff, Wood admitted "it has its pluses and negatives."

The Cubs must hope the negatives manifest in the form of power offense against Wood, who served up 13 home runs over his final 11 starts after allowing just two in his first 16 outings of the season. Wood's ERA was 4.25 over those 11 games, and he's 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four career outings at Wrigley Field.

3. The end-game factor

Wade Davis has now been idle five straight days since throwing a season-high 44 pitches in the Cubs' NLDS Game 5 win over the Nationals. Chicago's most effective reliever during the regular season, Davis will theoretically be available for multiple innings in Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 as well.

Simply put, the Cubs won't need the best nine innings of Arrieta's life; six or seven may be enough in Game 4.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Arrieta on effectiveness of Cubs' bullpen

The Dodgers no longer have a similar advantage after deploying their own standout closer, Kenley Jansen, to protect a five-run lead in Game 3. Jansen has appeared in all three games this series and, while he will still likely be available in Game 4, he isn't nearly as well-rested as Davis.

"As the game goes," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said, "you can never have enough pitching."

Anthony DiComo has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Jake Arrieta