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Dodgers vs. Cubs: Game 1 Score and Twitter Reaction from 2016 MLB Playoffs

A power surge in the bottom of the eighth inning featuring a Miguel Montero pinch-hit grand slam lifted the Chicago Cubs to an 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night. 

The Dodgers battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the top of the eighth to tie the game after the Cubs pulled starter Jon Lester, who gave up one run in six innings on 77 pitches. But the Cubs showed a brand of postseason resiliency that's been uncommon on the North Side of Chicago for 108 years. 

The pitching matchup featured opposing hurlers trending in different directions Saturday night.

Lester hadn't allowed more than one run in nine of his last 10 starts, while Los Angeles' Kenta Maeda was thrashed for 12 runs over his last three appearances. 

The Cubs got to Maeda in the bottom of the first, when Kris Bryant doubled home Dexter Fowler from first to take a 1-0 lead.

Maeda attempted to throw a two-seam fastball on the outside corner, but Bryant was strong enough to send a shot to left field over Howie Kendrick's head. 

It was all that Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal had to see:

However, Daren Willman of pointed out that Kendrick could have done better:

The Dodgers almost had an answer in the top of the second. After an Adrian Gonzalez single and a Kike Hernandez walk, Maeda singled to left field. But Ben Zobrist threw the slow-footed Gonzalez out at home by a healthy margin.

Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe was not impressed with third base coach Chris Woodward:

Maeda returned to the mound and got into more trouble, giving up a leadoff triple to Jason Heyward. He scored on a hustle double by Javier Baez, who blooped a fly ball off the end of his bat into no-man's land between shortstop and right field.

According to Statcast, that usually doesn't end well for the batter:

Baez's hustle was a welcome sight for Katie Klabusich of The Establishment:

Baez made it 3-0 when he advanced to third on a passed ball and then stole home with Lester at the plate.

After Lester squared up and missed the bunt with Baez charging down the third base line, Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz got up and fired to third. Instead of stopping and turning back toward third, Baez continued home.

By the time Justin Turner could fire it back home, Baez had slid in safely for the first postseason home base steal by a Cubs player since Jimmy Slagle in Game 4 of the 1907 World Series, according to Fox Sports: MLB.

Fox Sports: MLB couldn't contain its excitement:

Then again, neither could Rian Watt of Vice Sports:

Los Angeles got a jolt in the top of the fifth inning, when Andre Ethier pinch hit for Maeda and sent a high fastball the other way for a solo home run to cut the Dodgers' deficit to two. 

Ethier's long ball surprised Stacey Gotsulias of Today's Knuckleball:'s Alyson Footer tried to explain how the ball went out:

It was the only blemish on Lester's night. Jorge Soler hit for him in the sixth with two outs and Baez at second. However, Soler grounded out to short, and Diamond questioned the decision to pull Lester:

After an uneventful seventh inning that saw Travis Wood, Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery record an out apiece, Montgomery allowed a leadoff single in the eighth to pinch hitter Andrew Toles. 

Montgomery was pulled for Pedro Strop, who walked Chase Utley to put two men on with no outs. It got worse for the Cubs when Turner hit a ground ball down the third base line, which was fielded deep behind the bag by Bryant. In an attempt to get the force-out, he tried to beat Toles to third. But he was too late, and the bases were loaded. 

Nick Vlahos of the Peoria Star Journal was prepared for the drama:

In a dire situation, the Cubs turned to flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman, who started by striking out NL Rookie of the Year candidate Corey Seager on four pitches. 

The drama was too much for 101 WKQX:

Yasiel Puig met the same fate, fanning too late on a 103 mph dart for the second out. 

But Gonzalez was able to figure out Chapman, driving a single up the middle to tie the game 3-3.

Jason McIntyre of the Big Lead couldn't believe Gonzalez was able to catch up to Chapman:

While other seasons might have seen doom and gloom for the Cubs, Zobrist ensured the Wrigley crowd stayed in it with a leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth off Joe Blanton.

After an Addison Russell groundout and intentional walk to Heyward, Baez popped up to make it two outs. 

Instead of pitching to Chris Coghlan, who pinch hit for Chapman, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called for another intentional walk to load the bases and force the Cubs' hand to get Chapman out of the game. 

Reserve catcher Miguel Montero was called in to bat for the closer, and he put an entire city on his shoulders, launching a Blanton offering into the right field porch for a grand slam. 

Today's Knuckleball's Jon Heyman wasn't afraid to give Montero's bash a prestigious label:

Dexter Fowler electrified Wrigley even more when he followed it up with a big fly of his own, and 103.5 KISS FM couldn't control itself:

Los Angeles plated one in the ninth after a Toles double scored Joc Pederson. But with one out, Utley ripped a liner in the glove of Rizzo, who quickly turned and fired to second to end the game with a double play.

Both teams have had sizable championship droughts, although one is noticeably longer than the other. The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988, while the Cubs last won a title 80 years before that. 

The Dodgers will look to ace Clayton Kershaw to tie the series in Game 2 on Sunday, while Chicago will turn to this season's ERA king, Kyle Hendricks, in what looks like a big-time pitching matchup before the NLCS shifts to Los Angeles for three games.


Post-Game Reaction

The hero of the night Montero kept it simple when trying to describe his game-changing at-bat, via 670 The Score:

There might have been more work involved just remaining focused after preparing for a night of sitting on the bench, via Josh Frydman of WGN News:

But after Montero's ball left the park, the Cubs' bench might have been focused on their safety, according to Baez via USA Today Sports' Bob Nightengale:

While there was elation in Chicago's dugout, there was despair in Los Angeles' as Roberts explained his decision-making in that eighth inning, via Fox Sports:MLB:

Bryant though was okay with Roberts' decisions, via ChicagoSports:

With Los Angeles' ace in Kershaw looming next in Game 2, there had to have been added pressure for the Cubs to take the series opener as facing a former Cy Young winner down 1-0 could have created an insurmountable deficit. 

The Dodgers will need their ace to be just that come Sunday or else they'll be flying home to Los Angeles needing to win all three games if they want a realistic chance of advancing to the World Series. 

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