<
>

If only for a night, Cubs' swagger is back as Chicago avoids NLCS sweep

play
Baez crushes two dingers in Game 4 (0:49)

Javier Baez hits two solo home runs, the second of which soars 437 feet into left field, to extend the Cubs' lead over the Dodgers. (0:49)

CHICAGO -- For one night, and perhaps one night only, the Chicago Cubs brought their swagger to Wrigley Field and avoided elimination with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

The Cubs are still down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, but when ultra-confident hurler Jake Arrieta is doing his thing on the mound, and when flashy hitters Javier Baez and Willson Contreras are smacking home runs in style, it provides at least some hope that the defending champions can make a series of it.

Until Game 4, the Cubs looked anything but interested in repeating, but that's mostly because of the Dodgers' otherworldly pitching. Not so much on Wednesday, when Baez homered twice off starter Alex Wood while Contreras hit the longest postseason home run in Statcast history: a 491-foot shot that hit the left-field video scoreboard in the second inning. His slow jog around the bases told a story of relief for a struggling offense, or maybe it was a nod to the Dodgers' lightning rod of attention, Yasiel Puig, who hit a homer of his own in this series. Contreras took a season-long 30.85 seconds to round the bases, according to Statcast.

One of the lasting images of the night will be free-agent-to-be Arrieta walking off the mound to a standing ovation with two outs in the seventh inning. Rusty from a hamstring injury, which limited him to one start since Sept. 26, Arrieta gave all he had over the course of 111 pitches. He left with two men on and two outs as the Cubs held on to a 3-1 lead. Reliever Brian Duensing induced his biggest out of the season when National League Rookie of the Year favorite Cody Bellinger popped up to end the inning. Considering the Cubs' struggles out of the bullpen this postseason, getting that out was no sure thing.

The drama didn't end there. Cubs manager Joe Maddon called upon closer Wade Davis to get the final six outs, which he eventually did -- but not before giving up a home run to Justin Turner and seeing Maddon get kicked out of his second game in this NLCS. The umpires reversed a swinging strike-three call on Curtis Granderson, determining that he fouled off the pitch after huddling for a few minutes. Replays on the video board at Wrigley Field indicated differently, and Maddon got his money's worth before leaving.

The Cubs are also getting their money's worth out of Davis, who threw 48 pitches to get the save. Plus, he excited the crowd with his nine-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. He struck out, but he did his job on the mound to keep the Cubs alive for one more day.