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Chicago Cubs dump Los Angeles Dodgers, claw within a win of World Series

By
Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (C) receives high fives in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning in game five of the National League Championship Series at Dodgers Stadium on October 20, 2016. Chicago and Los Angeles are tied 2-2 in the NLCS. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (C) receives high fives in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning in game five of the National League Championship Series at Dodgers Stadium on October 20, 2016. Chicago and Los Angeles are tied 2-2 in the NLCS. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES -- With the Chicago Cubs one win away from their first World Series in 71 years, Dexter Fowler waved off the big-picture narrative.

"We've heard the history, but at the same time, we're trying to make history," Fowler said.

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Addison Russell homered for the second night in a row, and Javier Baez added three RBIs as the Cubs blew past the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Cubs starter Jon Lester allowed one run in seven innings as the Cubs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Chicago can clinch a trip to its first World Series since 1945 with a win in Game 6 on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

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They will have their work cut out as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (1-0 in the series) returns to the mound to face Chicago's Kyle Hendricks (0-1).

Lester (1-0) struck out six, walked one and allowed only five hits.

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"Obviously, we all know what we have in front of us with Kershaw going in Game 6," said Lester, who improved to 3-0 with 1.80 ERA in Game 5 starts. "And we're going to do the same thing we've done all year. Show up on Saturday and be ready to play and give it our best. Hopefully, he's not the good (Kershaw) and we get the kind of mediocre guy that gives up a few runs and we're able to hold them where they're at."

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Russell, who was 2-for-5 with two runs, cranked a tiebreaking, two-run homer off reliever Joe Blanton (0-2) with one out in the fifth to break up a 1-1 tie. Blanton, who surrendered two runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings, hung an 0-1 slider that Russell smoked out of the park.

"That's been my go-to pitch for the past year-and-half or so," Blanton said. "Sometimes you get lucky, and when you hang it, sometimes you don't. My goal is not to hang it, especially in those counts."

Said Russell, "I was just trying to find some gaps. I was looking for something up in the zone to drive. First pitch slider, a little bit low. Second pitch was a slider, but it was elevated and I put the barrel on it, and it kind of went.

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"But rounding the bases, it was pretty exciting. Pumped up. Not only for myself, but for the team and that little cushion that (Lester) had to go forward from that, and I felt really good."

Baez's bases-clearing double highlighted a five-run eighth as the Cubs pulled away. Baez went 3-for-5, while Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Fowler had two hits and an RBI apiece.

After being blanked in Games 2 and 3, the Cubs outscored the Dodgers 18-6 in Games 4 and 5.

Dodgers rookie Kenta Maeda pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed a run on three hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

Los Angeles shortstop Corey Seager went 2-for-3. Catcher Carlos Ruiz was 1-for-4 and drove in a run in the eighth, while Josh Reddick and Andrew Toles had RBIs in the ninth.

Fowler led off the game with a single and scored on Rizzo's RBI double to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

Los Angeles' Howie Kendrick hit a two-bagger with one out in the fourth. After stealing third, Kendrick scored on a groundout by Adrian Gonzalez to tie the score.

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Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner singled in the third to reach base for a club-record 15th consecutive postseason game, dating back to last season. Turner broke Carl Furillo's mark set in 1953-56, when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn.

However, that mattered little in the end.

"Tonight, it was one of those games that it was, up until the eighth, it was a very good ballgame," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Could have went either way."

NOTES: Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw said he didn't lobby manager Dave Roberts to start Game 5. "I don't feel like that's my decision," said Kershaw, who starts Game 6 on Saturday at Wrigley Field. "I feel like (Roberts) and everybody above me have the whole team's best interest in mind obviously, trying to win the series." Kershaw faces Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks in a rematch of Game 2, which Los Angeles won 1-0. . ... If there is a Game 7 on Sunday, Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (1-0, 0.00 ERA in the NLCS) would oppose Chicago RHP Jake Arrieta (0-1, 7.20). ... The winner of Game 5 has gone on to capture 70.2 percent of all best-of-seven postseason series, according to STATS, LLC.

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