Cubs Add a Chapter to Nationals’ Painful Postseason History

The Nationals did not go down without a fight. After squandering the lead in the fifth inning, the Nationals kept injecting tension and hope by grinding through the Cubs’ shaky bullpen.

“Everyone in this room and everyone in their room had a million chances to win,” Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said.

It was not until Cubs closer Wade Davis, called upon for a career-high seven-out save, struck out Bryce Harper that the four-hour 37-minute marathon ended.

Exhausted and overjoyed, the Cubs jumped with glee on the field. “It was a bizarro world,” Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said.

And a cruel one for Washington. For the fourth time in six years, which included three do-or-die Game 5s, the Nationals were sent home for the off-season to dwell on questions about their inability to perform in October. Since the start of the 2012 season, they have the second-most regular season wins in baseball and four division titles, but they have yet to win a playoff series.

“That was a tough one,” Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth said. “I’m not totally sure what happened. That was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of.”

The Cubs, in contrast, advanced to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in a best-of-seven N.L. Championship Series that begins on Saturday. After ending their 108-year title drought last year, the Cubs were a weaker team this season. But they overcame their faults and Maddon cobbled together a bullpen Thursday that helped carry the team to the N.L.C.S. for the third consecutive season.

“That’s one of the most incredible victories I’ve ever been a part of,” Maddon said.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who was brilliant in Game 1, allowed four runs in four innings. Maddon played with fire by leaving Hendricks in the game as long as he did, but the Cubs battled back from an early deficit and capitalized on the Nationals’ many mistakes.

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