For the first time in 12 years, the Chicago Cubs have won a postseason game as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 4-0 on Wednesday night.
Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber both hit home runs, and Jake Arrieta pitched a complete game as the Cubs set up an NLDS showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
The Cubs got off to a flying start in the game as Dexter Fowler laced a single to center field, and he promptly stole second base. On a 2-2 count, Kyle Schwarber muscled a ball into left field, driving in Fowler and giving Jake Arrieta a 1-0 lead before he even took the mound.
The Pirates got a two-out single from Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the frame, but Arrieta appeared unfazed as he struck out Starling Marte on an 0-2 pitch to leave the Cubs ahead through the first inning of play.
Both pitchers breezed through the second inning, with Cole only allowing a deep fly ball to Addison Russell and Arrieta conceding a fly ball to Jordy Mercer that Fowler gloved to keep the game at 1-0 in favor of Chicago.
The score remained that way until the third inning, when Schwarber stepped up with Fowler on first base. On an inside pitch, the rookie right fielder turned on the ball and hammered a home run deep over the right field wall to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead through two and a half innings.
Arrieta cruised through the next two innings, and in the top of the fifth inning, he was given another run of support as Fowler went deep. He hammered a home run to right-center field, giving the Cubs a 4-0 cushion as Cole left the game for the Pirates.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Pirates loaded the bases with one out, but the Cubs were able to get out of the mess as Marte grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with the visitors still up four runs.
Things got even more heated in the top of the seventh inning as Tony Watson hit Arrieta with a pitch. The benches cleared as the two teams jawed at one another, but things were eventually settled with only Sean Rodriguez getting ejected after he threw a punch at David Ross in the melee. The inning ended without incident, and the Cubs continued to lead.
The Pirates got a baserunner in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Arrieta continued his dominance as his pitch count exceeded the century mark. He struck out Josh Harrison with two outs and a runner on first to retire the Pirates and put the Cubs three outs away from victory.
Avoiding all drama, Arrieta cruised through the ninth inning to finish the complete game. He got McCutchen on a slow ground ball back to the mound, and then forced a groundout from Marte for the second out. When Cervelli lined out to second base, the Cubs clinched their first playoff victory in 12 years, and set up a series against the Cardinals beginning on Friday.
The series begins on Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m., with Game 1 taking place at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.