Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Cubs up 2-0 despite losing ace

CHICAGO — Travis Wood took over when starter Kyle Hendricks got hurt and became the first relief pitcher since 1924 to hit a postseason home run, helping the Cubs beat the Giants 5-2 Saturday night for 2-0 National League Division Series lead.

Former Ray Ben Zobrist put Chicago ahead in the first with an RBI single off former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, and Hendricks hit a two-run single in a three-run second.

Hendricks left with a 4-2 lead in the fourth when he was hit on the right forearm by Angel Pagan's line drive.

Wood struck out Conor Gillaspie to strand Pagan, then sent a one-out drive into the leftfield bleachers in the bottom half of the inning. The only other reliever to homer was the New York Giants' Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series.

Madison Bumgarner, coming off a four-hit shutout of the Mets in the NL wild-card game, tries to save the Giants' season when the series resumes Monday in San Francisco. The Cubs, who start reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, are one win from advancing to an NL Championship Series matchup against the Dodgers or Nationals.

Samardzija lasted just two innings in the shortest start of his career.

Gregor Blanco hit an RBI double and Brandon Belt added a sacrifice fly in San Francisco's two-run third, but that was it for the Giants in another sluggish performance at the plate. They have scored in just two of their 27 innings in this year's postseason, winning 3-0 on Gillaspie's ninth-inning homer in the wild-card game against the Mets and losing 1-0 in the NLDS opener Friday night.

San Francisco won the World Series in three of the past five seasons. But the Giants' lackluster stay in Chicago put them in a big hole against the loaded Cubs, who led the majors with 103 wins this year.

The biggest positive for the Giants: Bumgarner is lined up for Game 3. The left-hander tossed a four-hitter in the wild-card win and is 6-1 with a 0.79 ERA in his past nine playoff appearances.

San Francisco also can draw from its 2012 title run, when it dropped the first two games of the Division Series against Cincinnati and won three in a row to advance. The Giants then fell behind 3-1 in the NLCS against St. Louis and stayed alive again.

GAME POSTPONED: Game 2 of the NLDS between the Dodgers and Nationals in Washington was postponed because of heavy rain that intensified as Hurricane Matthew moved up the coast. It was rescheduled for 1 p.m. today. Los Angeles leads 1-0 after a 4-3 victory late Friday night.

LIRIANO CONCUSSED: Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano sustained a concussion when he was struck in the back of the head by Carlos Gomez's line drive in Game 2 of the AL Division Series on Friday. There is no timetable for his return.

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