World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs took another step in their championship chase Tuesday night by rallying for four runs in the ninth inning of Game 4 to beat San Francisco 6-5 and win their NL Division Series.
Javier Baez's tiebreaking single capped the comeback against a beleaguered bullpen that sabotaged the Giants one last time.
Held to two hits over eight innings by Matt Moore, the Cubs trailed 5-2 heading to the ninth.
Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras tied it with a two-run single with none out. Baez singled in the go-ahead run two batters later, and the Cubs capitalized on Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford's second costly error and more untimely blunders by the Giants' once-reliable relief staff.
One day after getting tagged in the eighth inning, Aroldis Chapman closed this one out by striking out the side in order.
Soon-to-retire David Ross homered to start the third, hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth and threw out Denard Span trying to steal.
Four wins from their first pennant since 1945, the Cubs will open the NL Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals. That matchup is tied 2-all heading into the deciding Game 5 on Thursday.
The Dodgers avoided elimination Tuesday with a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals that forced a deciding game in their NL playoff.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer for the Dodgers, who turned to Kershaw on three days' rest to salvage their season.
The score was tied 5-all with two outs in the eighth when Andrew Toles got hit by a pitch from loser Blake Treinen. Ethier followed with a single to left and Utley singled to right, scoring Toles from second for a 6-5 lead.
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Nats had runners on first and second against Kershaw with two outs. The crowd chanted Kershaw's name as he and Bryce Harper battled through eight pitches before Harper drew a walk.
Harper's walk loaded the bases and chased Kershaw, who walked off with his head down. He sat alone in the dugout with his head resting on his right hand.
Pedro Baez came in and hit Jayson Werth with his only pitch, forcing in a run to make it 5-3. Baez got booed off the field.
Daniel Murphy's single off Luis Avilan dropped between Toles and Joc Pederson in left-center field, scoring two runs to tie it at 5. Avilan also heard boos.
Joe Blanton, who earned the win, retired Anthony Rendon on a swinging strikeout to end the inning.