Saturday’s roundup: Cubs top Giants, take 2-0 NLDS lead
Chicago — Best in the majors during the regular season, the Chicago Cubs are one win from reaching the NL Championship Series for the second straight year.
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 San Francisco Giants, 5-2, Saturday night for 2-0 NLDS lead.
Madison Bumgarner, coming off a four-hit shutout of the New York Mets in the NL wild-card game, tries to save the Giants’ season when the series resumes Monday in San Francisco.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon remains wary of the Giants, World Series champions in 2010, ’12 and ’14.
“You watch how they react to different moments,” Maddon said. “They’re never panicked. They’re never concerned. ... I really believe our guys will come ready to play knowing that they are also. That’s just a given.”
The Cubs, who start reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, are now one win from a matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals. Swept by the New York Mets in last year’s NLCS, Chicago led the big leagues with 103 wins during the regular season and is hoping for its first World Series title since 1908.
Ben Zobrist hit a run-scoring single off former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija in the first, and Hendricks added a two-run, bloop single in a three-run second.
The Cubs were leading 4-2 in the fourth when Hendricks left the game with a bruised right forearm after being hit by Angel Pagan’s line drive.
Wood struck out Conor Gillaspie to strand Pagan, then sent a one-out offering from George Kontos halfway up the left-field bleachers in the bottom half of the inning. The only other reliever to homer in the postseason was the New York Giants’ Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series.
Given a curtain call by a screaming crowd of 42,392, Wood joined Rick Sutcliffe (1984) and Kerry Wood (2003) as the only Cubs pitchers to go deep in the postseason. Travis Wood has nine regular-season homers in his big league career.
Wood pitched a hitless fifth and was credited with the win. Four more relievers completed Chicago’s second straight six-hitter, with Aroldis Chapman throwing 12 of 16 pitches at 100 mph and up for his second consecutive save.
Hendricks, the major league ERA leader, gave up two runs and four hits in 32/3 innings.
“We picked him up tonight, having his injury and stuff and that’s what we have done all year long,” Wood said. “We pull on each other and end up backing each other up.”
Samardzija’s first career playoff start was a short one. The right-hander, who spent his first 61/2 seasons with the Cubs, was pinch-hit for in the third after allowing four runs and six hits.
Down 4-0, San Francisco scored two in the third when Gregor Blanco doubled in a run and scored on Brandon Belt ‘s sacrifice fly.
“Just can’t put your team in that much of a hole early in the game, especially against a good staff like they have over there,” Samardzija said. “Like to have that one back, for sure. That one’s on me.”
Hendricks said his arm “feels pretty good right now” and he hopes to be ready in a few days after X-rays showed no structural damage.
He said he felt pain after a few warm-up pitches and exited after a discussion with Maddon.
“He told me if there’s anything at all, he didn’t want me in there,” Hendricks said.
Dodgers-National washed out
Persistent rain led MLB to postpone Game 2 of the NLDS between the Dodgers and Nationals to Sunday afternoon.
The teams were scheduled for a 4:08 p.m. first pitch Saturday. But rain that intensified as Hurricane Matthew moved up the coast and a forecast of “100 percent certainty” for precipitation until at least 8 p.m. forced the decision, commissioner Rob Manfred said.
L.A. leads the best-of-five series 1-0 after a 4-3 victory Friday night.
Manfred said he expected the weather to be better for a 1:08 p.m. start Sunday at Nationals Park. It’s supposed to be 61 degrees and windy.
Left-hander Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) will start for the Dodgers against right-hander Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83). Manfred said the rest of the series will proceed as scheduled with Game 3 Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Around the horn
Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano was removed from the ALDS roster after he sustained a concussion in Toronto’s Game 2 win over Texas.
Right-hander Danny Barnes will replace Liriano, who left in the eighth inning Friday after being hit in the back of the head by Carlos Gomez’s line drive.
Liriano is not eligible to return for seven days.
The Blue Jays lead the series 2-0. Game 3 is Sunday at Toronto.
Head athletic trainer George Poulis said Liriano felt good after tests Saturday.
“We’re going to examine him each day and just go from there,” Poulis said.
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, who was scratched from Game 2 with a sore right knee, had an MRI Saturday morning. He is day-to-day with a bone bruise but has no structural damage.