Gonzalez Game 2, Scherzer Game 3 for Nats; Harper bats 2nd

Lest you think there was danger in Strasburg facing a lineup for the third time - a problem for so many pitchers, and a means to analyze so much postseason strategy - put those to rest.

He didn't allow an earned run in his first 18 appearances, and Davis' only blown save came on September 23 in Milwaukee, when he served up two home runs while making his sixth appearance in nine days. "You have to tip your cap to him".

The first hard contact of the night for the Cubs came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when catcher and cleanup hitter Wilson Contreras hit a 2-0 pitch up the middle.

Cubs starter Hendricks got the win as he allowed just two hits with six strikeouts and three walks while tossing 106 pitches. "We had nobody to figure out what we need", he said.

"Strasburg threw a great game".

Previous year the pressure was squarely on the Cubs to end their drought, but that's no longer the case.

"Yeah, that was kind of a downer", Baker said. Rendon and Murphy are big bats, but this team needs Harper at close to 100 percent. "It's one thing you really can't take for granted", Strasburg said, "and you've got to make the most of every opportunity you get". There are not a lot of pitchers that teams would trust more to get a win than Scherzer after his team is coming off of a loss. In fact, he's been damn near unhittable during that stretch, allowing three earned runs-all in one start-over his last seven appearances. Ryan Madson gave up a run in the eighth inning after Strasburg had made his exit.

The Game 1 assignment was instead given to Strasburg, who enjoyed perhaps the best regular season of his career but had made only one career postseason start before Friday because of a team-ordered shutdown in 2012 and an arm injury a year ago. He was shut down in 2012 after Tommy John surgery and was injured past year. While he may not have been the sexiest choice among the members of the Cubs' rotation to start the series, he definitely proved his worth in what was possibly his biggest game of the year to date. "But it also hurts us a little bit", Washington shortstop Trea Turner said. "You're aware of it". Despite the security challenge, Sports World Chicago owner Brad Rosen said he wasn't anxious. "I said, 'Why? If you're a Cardinal fan you stick with the Cardinals.' That's how it should be".

But this is why you want a guy like Lester on the mound for Game 2 Saturday against the Nationals.

NOTES: All 16 position players in the starting lineups had at least 10 homers this year. And yes, they will start to tense up about the time Kyle Schwarber blasts one into the third deck at Nationals Park.

SCHERZER IN GAME 3: Two-time Cy Young Award victor Max Scherzer is scheduled to pitch Game 3 of Washington's NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, after Gio Gonzalez starts Game 2. He was 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks overall. Washington is 4-13 in Gonzalez's last 17 starts against the NL Central and 3-8 in their last 11 playoff games while the under is 31-13-7 in their last 51 games overall. Gio Gonzalez will get the nod for Washington in game two and was 15-9 with a 2.96 ERA and 188 strikeouts in the regular season. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant and Nationals RF Bryce Harper are both Las Vegas natives and good friends. Should they lose more games so they can practice feeling tense and miserable more often?

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  • Julie Sanders