(CBS) Before this National League Championship Series started, Cubs manager Joe Maddon warned that mistakes would be made, that something would go wrong. In his mind, the key was how his Cubs would react.
He got a glimpse Saturday night, with Miguel Montero stepping up in the biggest way.
Montero hit a two-out, pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the eighth to break a 3-3 tie, and the Cubs defeated the Dodgers, 8-4, in Game 1 to draw first blood. Montero’s grand slam came a half-inning after the Dodgers had shocked the Wrigley Field faithful when Adrian Gonzalez drilled a two-run single off fireballer closer Aroldis Chapman to tie the contest.
Montero was pinch-hitting after the Dodgers had intentionally walked two batters, in an effort to get to the pitcher’s spot and get Chapman out of the game. They came to regret it. Montero’s no-doubter to right field came off of Dodgers righty reliever Joe Blanton, who hung a slider over the plate. Dexter Fowler followed with a solo homer.
Before all the eighth-inning action, the game was going to script for the Cubs, who held a 3-1 lead through seven frames.
With the help of Fowler making a pair of diving catches on hard-hit balls, left-hander Lester continued his postseason brilliance in throwing six innings of one-run ball. His lone blemish was an Andre Ethier pinch-hit homer in the fifth inning. Lester allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three on a night the wind was heartily blowing out to left field. Much to his chagrin, he exited after just 77 pitches, being pinch-hit for in the bottom of the sixth.
Fowler led the game off with a single, and Kris Bryant followed with an RBI double off the left-field wall for a 1-0 lead.
Chicago added two runs in the second inning, as Baez hit an RBI double, then stole home not long after when he immediately broke for the plate after wandering too far off third base and getting thrown behind. He was the first Cubs player to steal home in a playoff game since 1907.
With two hits and a walk, the Dodgers loaded the bases in the eighth with no outs. Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought Chapman in to reliever. He struck out the first two batters he faced before Gonzalez lined the tying hit up the middle.
Game 2 is Sunday at Wrigley Field, with first pitch at 7:08 p.m. The Cubs will turn to MLB ERA champion Kyle Hendricks, while the Dodgers will start ace Clayton Kershaw. The game can be heard on 670 The Score.