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Cubs put away the Giants with ferocious ninth-inning rally

SAN FRANCISCO -- This postseason is supposed to be a silencing of the echoes for the Chicago Cubs. After the two games in San Francisco, the reverberations of history might be silenced after all.

Javier Baez capped a four-run ninth-inning rally against five Giants relievers as the Cubs beat San Francisco 6-5 and put Chicago into the NLCS for the second straight season.

The Cubs' offense did little against Giants starter Matt Moore for eight innings but sprang to life against the San Francisco bullpen in the ninth. Ben Zobrist doubled to drive in Kris Bryant and draw the Cubs to within 5-3. Then pinch hitter Willson Contreras tied the score with a single up the middle, setting up Baez's go-ahead hit.

There was no gut-twisting, stick of the knife manner in the way the Cubs fell behind by three runs to the Giants. No glaring managerial breakdowns or fan interference or horrible fielding gaffes. Instead, San Francisco methodically dismantled starter John Lackey with singles and walks and sacrifice flies, all occurring in the right clusters with the timing perfect, and the Giants were in position to even the series.

In doing so, they would have set the stage for all sorts of bad playoff remembrances in Chicago. The Giants had an offensive hero in Conor Gillaspie, who went 4-for-4, and a defensive hero in Moore, who held the Cubs to two hits in eight innings and struck out 10.

Maybe it would have been too soon to declare this the latest chapter in the Cubs' book of postseason horrors, but there did seem to be a mash-up of some bad autumn memories in place. First, there was Game 3, when the Cubs held an eighth-inning lead only to see the opponent rally to stay alive. No, it wasn't as dramatic as Game 6 against the Marlins 13 years ago, but the end effect is the same.

Then there is the opposing hitter emerging as a playoff force. Last year, it was the Mets' Daniel Murphy. In 1989, it was the Giants' Will Clark. Now it seemed to be Gillaspie. But with one inning, the Cubs changed all that, and their march toward history continues.

And the echoes of Octobers past ... they are a little more distant, for now. Game 1 of the NLCS is Saturday at Wrigley Field against the winner of Thursday's Game 5 between the Nationals and Dodgers.