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Cubs win Game 3, take commanding 2-1 lead over Nationals in NLDS

The Cubs are a win away from advancing. The Nationals are a loss away from a familiar end to their season.

MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the 2017 NLDS, 2-1, putting them within a win of yet another National League Championship Series. The Cubs had as many errors as hits (four), and they were being no-hit into the seventh inning.

They still won, and now you’re right to wonder if the Cubs are owed a century’s worth of good postseason luck. It would be only fair, but it’s still a chilling thought.

The Cubs went down 1-0 in the sixth inning after homer galoot Kyle Schwarber made two errors on one play to put Daniel Murphy at third base with two outs, where he was promptly doubled home by Ryan Zimmerman. With Max Scherzer pitching as well as he can, the Wrigley Field crowd was on the quieter side of raucous.

Scherzer took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, getting the first out before allowing a double to Ben Zobrist. Even though that was the first hit he allowed, Nationals manager Dusty Baker pulled him, partially because of the pitch count (98), partially because of Scherzer’s recent hamstring troubles, and partially because the postseason is apparently where starting pitchers might throw six innings, but only if they’re dominant.

Scherzer was removed in favor of left-hander Sammy Solis, who immediately allowed a single that scored Zobrist. This brings up Bill James’ First Rule of Max Scherzer and Sammy Solis Management, which reads:

Don’t take out Max Scherzer for Sammy Solis

I can’t find exactly where James wrote that, but he probably did, and while Dusty Baker is a strong manager in a lot of respects, avoiding bullpen weirdness is not one of them.

The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Brandon Kintzler walked leadoff hitter Tommy La Stella, Jon Jay bunted him over to second, and Anthony Rizzo dunked the doinkiest dink of the season into a perfectly placed outfield void. In a postseason where it seems like there are six homers in every game, it’s refreshing to watch a game decided by a walk, bunt, and doink.

Unless you’re a Nationals fan, which ... yeah, that would be rough.

The Cubs, who were fighting for their lives against the Brewers in the middle of the summer, are just a win away from their third straight NLCS appearance. They’ll attempt to close the series out in Game 4, which will be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. ET.