Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Kershaw awaits as Cubs bid for history

CHICAGO — All that's left for the Cubs to do is make history.

The Cubs came home to Wrigley Field with a 3-2 lead over the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series and a chance tonight (8, Fox Sports 1, 620-AM) to end a more than seven-decade wait to return to the World Series.

"We're not going to run away from anything," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's within our reach right now. But I do want us to go after it as though it's, again, hate to say it, but Saturday. Let's just go play our Saturday game and see how it falls."

For a franchise defined more by heartbreak and losing, this will be no ordinary Saturday. Then again, this has been no ordinary season.

The Cubs led the majors with 103 wins and ran away with the NL Central title. They won more games than any Cubs team since 1910, and if they beat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, they'll face Cleveland in their first World Series since 1945.

That will put them on the verge of their first championship since 1908.

But tonight they face one of the game's most dominant pitchers in Kershaw. The Cubs will go with major-league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks.

Game 7 would be on Sunday, if necessary.

"We've won two games in a row before," said Los Angeles' Adrian Gonzalez. "Nothing says we can't do it Saturday and Sunday."

The Cubs put themselves in this position by shaking off back-to-back shutout losses and combining to score 18 runs in the past two games. Jon Lester threw seven solid innings, Addison Russell had a tiebreaking home run and the Cubs won 8-4 Thursday.

Russell has gone deep in back-to-back games and is 5-for-10 after going 1-for-24 to start the postseason. Anthony Rizzo has five hits and a homer over the past two games after going 2-for-26. Javier Baez is getting big hits and making sensational plays at second.

Now, it's up to Kershaw to cool off the Cubs.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance this postseason and has been erasing a reputation for struggling in the playoffs. He had two decent starts against Washington in the NLDS and closed out the series-clinching win.

He was spectacular against Chicago in Game 2, allowing two hits over seven innings, and Kenley Jansen closed out a 1-0 victory.

Kershaw was ready to pitch Thursday on three days' rest. He'll get five between starts instead, though he will be pitching for the fourth time in 12 days.

"We're down a game, but we've won on the road before," manager Dave Roberts said. "We get a rested Kersh. So with that, we feel good."

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