‘Cursed’ Chicago Cubs back in World Series after 71 years with win over Los Angeles Dodgers

A 5-0 victory wraps up the Major League Baseball’s National League Championship Series 4-2 and they will face the Cleveland Indians starting next week

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2016, 1:10pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2016, 9:49pm

The Chicago Cubs are headed to the World Series for the first time in 71 years after a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

The hard-luck Cubs haven’t won the world Series since 1908, and last played in Major League Baseball’s championship showcase in 1945.

But with the victory before 42,386 ecstatic fans at Wrigley Field, the Cubs wrapped up the National League Championship Series 4-2 and will face the Cleveland Indians in the 112th World Series starting on Tuesday in Cleveland.

The Indians, in contrast, haven’t won a World Series title since 1948.

Watch: The Chicago Cubs seal their place in the World Series

The Cubs pounced quickly on Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw, scoring two runs in the first inning to stake Chicago starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks to an early lead.

After giving up a first-pitch single, Hendricks dominated, facing the minimum number of Dodgers hitters through 7 1/3 shutout innings.

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Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo both homered off Kershaw as the Dodgers were denied their first trip to the World Series since 1988.

A Cubs team that won a major league-leading 103 regular-season games chased Kershaw after five innings.

Kershaw, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a game two win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field a week earlier, gave up five runs, four of them earned, on seven hits.

“The Cubs’ hitters, they had a great game plan tonight,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “There was traffic all night for Clayton. And he gave it everything he had, but when he did make a mistake, they made him pay.”

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When the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play to end the game, Wrigley Field erupted as Cubs players stormed the mound to celebrate.

“This is unbelievable right now,” Hendricks said. “Today, that might have been the best game I pitched all year. I had my fastball command, change up, curveball, I had everything going.”

Chicago second baseman Javier Baez delivered more heads-up defensive play, tagging Andrew Toles out to spark a double play in the first inning.

In the bottom half of the inning, Kris Bryant singled to right field to score Dexter Fowler for the first run, and the Cubs capitalised on Toles’ error in left field to score a second run on Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice fly.

It was the first time this season that Kershaw allowed two runs in the first inning and was a sign of things to come.

Addison Russell led off the bottom of the second with a double and scored on Fowler’s two-out single before Contreras homered off Kershaw in the fourth and Rizzo in the fifth.

It was sweet relief for long-suffering Cubs fans, whose team were one win from the World series in 1984 before San Diego rallied to win three straight games and advance to the Fall Classic.

In 2003, the Cubs led the National League Championship Series 3-2 and were up 3-0 in the eighth inning of the sixth game when a fan, Steve Bartman, tried to grab a foul ball in the front row of the stands and disrupted a potential leaping catch by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou.

Instead of the Cubs being four outs from the World Series, the Florida Marlins had new life and went on to win that game and the next to deny the Cubs again.

For some, all the heartache can be traced back to that last World Series appearance in 1945 and the “Curse of the Billy Goat,” when Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, cursed the club when asked to take his pet goat from the ballpark.

While the Indians still await, it wasn’t surprising that the Cubs’ achievement in reaching the World Series sparked celebrations beyond the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field.

“Incredible. Absolutely incredible,” an enthusiastic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

“The Chicago Cubs are National League champions. Across Chicago and around the world, generations of Cubs fans, from the very young to the very, very old, are celebrating tonight.”

But Cubs slugger Bryant said he and his teammates are only looking ahead.

“We’re too young. We don’t care about it,” Bryant said of the Cubs’ decades of agony.

“This is a new team. We’re enjoying it -- and our work is just getting started.”