Preview: Dodgers at Cubs

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[October 15, 2016]  The Chicago Cubs avoided an anxiety-filled Game 5 at home in the National League Division Series with a remarkable ninth-inning comeback on Tuesday and then waited around until late Thursday to figure out who they would face in the Championship Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who authored their own dramatic road victory in the NLDS, were the lucky winners in the battle of teams fighting for the chance to go up against the best team in baseball and will visit Chicago for Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.

The Cubs got six RBIs from their pitchers in the NLDS and are hoping the momentum from a four-run ninth inning in Game 4 can carry over to the next series for the offense. "We struggled at the plate in that series," Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters. "Maybe that kind of rally is what we needed to open the flood gates. ... It's nice to know we can win a series without having our best offense." The Dodgers went into a decisive Game 5 in Washington on Thursday and battled through a seventh inning that saw them take the lead over the course of 1 hour, 6 minutes, and then they had to turn to ace Clayton Kershaw to close it out. "It's just one of those things that when you're in the middle of a game, you're trying to count outs and shorten the game and put guys in the best position to have success on the offensive side, the defensive side," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the win.

TV: 8:08 p.m. ET, FS1

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Kenta Maeda (0-1, 12.00 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Jon Lester (1-0, 0.00)

Kershaw started Game 4 and closed out Game 5 of the NLDS, so Los Angeles will turn to Maeda in Game 1 of the NLCS. The native of Japan was roughed up for four runs on five hits and a pair of walks over three innings in his NLDS start and has lost three in a row while posting an 11.17 ERA going back to the regular season. Maeda, who is facing Chicago for the first time in his career, went 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 17 road starts this year.

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Lester is one of three legitimate Cy Young Award candidates on the Cubs' staff and will get the Game 1 nod over Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta after tossing eight scoreless innings in the NLDS opener versus San Francisco. The 32-year-old, who went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA during the regular season, struck out five and did not walk a batter against the Giants to improve to 7-6 with a 2.63 ERA in 17 career postseason games (15 starts). Lester faced the Dodgers twice in the regular season and allowed a total of one run while striking out 16 over 15 innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Cubs, who lost to the New York Mets in the NLCS last season, have not reached the World Series since 1945 and have not won a championship since 1908.

2. Los Angeles 3B Justin Turner batted .400 with a .591 on-base percentage and five RBIs against the Nationals.

3. Chicago INF Javier Baez went 6-for-16 in the NLDS and likely will get the start at 2B in Game 1, with Ben Zobrist moving to the outfield.

PREDICTION: Cubs 6, Dodgers 2

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