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MLB playoffs: Three takeaways from Cubs' series-saving win over Dodgers

Sporting News logo Sporting News 10/19/2017 Alec Brzezinski

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The Cubs staved off postseason elimination Wednesday with a 3-2 win over the Dodgers in Chicago.

Entering the game down 3-0 in the NL Championship Series, the Cubs had to apply some magic from last year's World Series-winning run. The offense perked up just enough to get that done.

Joe Maddon was tossed for the second time this series after a ruling was overturned. Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson was originally called out for swinging third strike, but umpires reversed the unchallengeable play. Maddon then stormed onto the field, and was ejected for his actions.

Game 5 will be in Chicago, where the Cubs will once again have to fight for their playoff lives.

Here are three takeaways from Game 5:

1. Javier Baez heard Maddon's message — Maddon pleaded with his hitters to produce some runs after Tuesday night's defeat. Baez must have heard him because he hit two solo home runs to help keep the Cubs' fading World Series hopes alive.

Baez, one of the most notorious free swingers in MLB, connected on an Alex Wood offering in the second inning, shortly after Willson Contreras went deep. Baez trotted around the bases again in the fifth inning after hitting his second home run off Wood. The Cubs still need Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant to get going, but this was a good start.

2. Jake Arrieta can still be an ace — The 2015 NL Cy Young award winner has steadily declined since his near-perfect form two seasons ago, but he can still deliver in the clutch. Arrieta proved reliable when Maddon needed him most Wednesday, allowing just one run with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

Arrieta did have five more walks, proving his command is sporadic, but he has allowed just one earned run in 10 2/3 innings this postseason. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks have taken up the role of "ace" at times for the Cubs, but Arrieta has the most devastating stuff out of the three.

3. Cubs might want to stop pitching to Justin Turner — Having Turner jack a walk-off home run in Game 2 should have been a wake-up call to the Cubs that this guy might best be avoided late in games. But Chicago pitched to him in the eighth inning Wednesday, nursing a 3-1 lead, and Turner hit a solo home run.

It is hard putting a man on base for free in the postseason because one swing of the bat can change momentum, but Turner has the Cubs' number. The Cubs might be better off giving him first base instead of repeatedly watching him repeatedly jog past it on his way home.

Highlight:

Contreras stares in wonder at a massive home run:

What's Next:

NLCS Game 5 — The Dodgers will try again to clinch a World Series bid at 7:08 p.m. ET on TBS. Chicago held on to a slender lead Wednesday to force Game 5, but Los Angeles will likely send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound to try and take care of business this time around.

Related slideshow: Best of the 2017 postseason (Provided by photo services)

Oct 21, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; View of the trophy after game seven of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports - 10361457 Best images of 2017 MLB playoffs
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