The Chicago Cubs are back in the National League Championship Series for a team-record third consecutive year. All it took was a comeback from an early 4-1 deficit, a crazy fifth-inning rally, an eighth-inning pickoff and a seven-out save by their closer.
Addison Russell drove in four runs and the Cubs took Game 5 of their NL Division Series by outscoring the Nationals, 9-8 in Washington.
The Nats took a three-run lead in the second inning as Daniel Murphy tied the game with a leadoff homer before Michael A. Taylor launched a three-run blast. Russell started the comeback with a simple RBI grounder in the third and provided a go-ahead, two-run double while the Cubs scored four times off loser Max Scherzer in the fifth.
Javier Baez struck out swinging following Russell's double, but the ball got away from Matt Wieters before the catcher threw wildly to first, allowing Addison to score. Tommy LaStella reached first on catcher's interference to load the bases, one batter before Jon Jay was hit by a pitch to force in another run.
Russell added an RBI double in the sixth to make it 8-4, but the Nationals chipped away. They scored once in the eighth to get within 9-8 and had the potential tying run on second before catcher Willson Contreras picked off Jose Lobaton at first base to end the threat. The pickoff bailed out Wade Davis, who finished the series by striking out Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.
The Cubs now head to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Nationals try to figure out how to win a playoff series after being bounced in the first round for the fourth time in four playoff appearances.
MLB -ALCS-YANKEES STARTERS
Masahiro Tanaka will start in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series for the New York Yankees against Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros on Friday night at 8:08 PM.
New York's Luis Severino will pitch Game 2 on Saturday against Justin Verlander. CC Sabathia gets the nod to start Game 3 on Monday in New York and Sonny Gray will start Game 4 on Tuesday.
The Astros have not announced their starters for Games 3 and 4.
The Philadelphia Eagles currently own the NFC's best record at 5-1 just one season after missing the playoffs.
Carson Wentz threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles earned a 28-23 win at Carolina. Philadelphia rallied from a 10-3, first-half deficit and dropped the Panthers to 4-2.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ran for a touchdown but threw three interceptions, two of which were converted into 18 points by the Eagles. Wentz hit Zach Ertz for TDs following Newton interceptions, and LaGarrette Blount added a two-point conversion that put the Eagles up 18-10 in the third quarter.
Wentz added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.
All of the Eagles' touchdowns came after Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (KEEK'-lee) left the game late in the second quarter. Kuechly was placed into the concussion protocol after his body crumpled following a collision with Eagles pulling guard Brandon Brooks.
A federal appeals court has lifted an injunction that had blocked a six-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott. The decision clears the way for the NFL's punishment over domestic violence allegations and likely leading to the running back's legal team seeking further relief.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans voted 2-1 to grant the league's emergency request to set aside the injunction and ordered the district court in Texas to dismiss Elliott's case.
A federal judge in Texas issued an injunction that blocked the suspension last month. That judge agreed with NFL players' union attorneys who argued that the investigation of the allegations in Ohio and subsequent appeal were unfair to Elliott.
The NFL countered that it followed procedures under the league's labor deal and that the union improperly filed a lawsuit before the appeals process was complete.
In other NFL news:
— Suspended cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie met with Giants coach Ben McAdoo on Thursday and was told that his suspension is indefinite. The Giants suspended Rodger-Cromartie on Wednesday for leaving the team facility before practice, one day after being told he wouldn't play Sunday in Denver.
— Andrew Luck says he's getting close to being ready to play, as he recovers from offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder. Before throwing at practice Thursday, the Colts quarterback told reporters he will continue being cautious as he gets close to the "finish line."
— Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will miss the rest of the season with a back injury that has put his career in jeopardy. The fifth-year veteran missed half of last season with ankle and back injuries. He had surgery on a disc in his back last December. He aggravated it in the second game this season, forcing him to consider another procedure. He's been inactive for the past three games.
—The NFL and the Patriots, Raiders and Steelers will together contribute $200,000 to support disaster relief efforts following last month's earthquake in Mexico City. The money will go to Banorte's Fundación Banorte, which is a local bank involved with relief efforts.
— Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry is critical of fans who lobbied for quarterback Jay Cutler to be benched, saying they're an embarrassment to players. Cutler drew jeers while struggling through much of the Dolphins' 2017 home debut, before his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Landry helped beat the Tennessee Titans 16-10.
— The NFL is keeping an eye on the wildfires in Northern California that could cause Sunday's Raiders-Chargers game to be moved from Oakland. The NFL's vice president of football communications said the league continues to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and is in close communication with both teams, as well as local authorities. Oakland is some 45 miles south of the fires and has been blanketed by smoke.
The Jets will host the Patriots on Sunday at 1 PM.
The Giants will play at Denver on Sunday at 8:30 PM.
The Buffalo Bills have a bye this week.
Miami Heat small forward Rodney McGruder will have surgery next week to repair a stress fracture in his leg.
McGruder averaged 6.4 points in a team-high 78 games last season, including 65 starts. The injury will likely keep him sidelined at least three months, though the timetable for a return will be known until after surgery.
The Minnesota Wild finally have their first win of the NHL season after knocking off one of their division rivals.
Chris Stewart scored twice and Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist as the Wild downed the Blackhawks, 5-2 in Chicago. Stewart's first goal broke a 1-1 deadlock midway through the third period and put Minnesota ahead to stay. He and Mikko Koivu added empty-netters as the Wild handed the Hawks their first regulation loss in five games this season.
Elsewhere in the NHL:
— Slater Koekkek scored his first two NHL goals and Alex Killorn had four assists as the Lightning topped the Penguins, 5-4. Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos scored his first goal since undergoing right knee surgery last November, a power-play tally that made it 3-1 early in the second period.
— The Blues' season-opening four-game winning streak is over after Roberto Luongo handled 37 shots in the Panthers' 5-2 verdict over St. Louis. Vincent Trocheck provided the go-ahead tally and Ian McCoshen had his first NHL goal to help Luongo move into a tie for fourth on the all-time list with his 474th victory.
— The Predators were 4-1 winners against Dallas as Samuel Girard scored his first NHL goal and added an assist. Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban each had a goal and an assist to back Pekka Rinne, who stopped 30 shots.
— Luke Glendening scored a short-handed goal with 3:24 left to snap a 2-2 tie in the Red Wings' 4-2 win over the winless Coyotes. Arizona also lost goaltender Anti Raanta to a lower-body injury suffered in the first period.
— The Sabres fell to 0-2-1 under new coach Phil Housley despite Jason Pominville's two goals in a 3-2 loss at San Jose. Martin Jones made 23 saves and blanked Buffalo after Timo Maier broke a 2-2 tie with 5 ½ minutes left in the second period of the Sharks' first win.
— Patrik Laine and Tyler Myers scored 3:13 apart late in the second period to push the Jets past the Canucks, 4-2. Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves and Bryan Little had two assists for Winnipeg.
A person with direct knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press the Canadiens have placed veteran defenseman Mark Streit on waivers.
The abrupt move comes four months after Montreal signed the 39-year-old Streit to a one-year, $700,000 contract. He appeared in two of Montreal's first four games after helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
Around the NHL:
— New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod has undergone arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. McLeod was injured during a preseason game and is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks.
NORTH CAROLINA-ACADEMIC PROBE
Three people with knowledge of the investigation say the NCAA infractions committee panel handling North Carolina's multi-year academic case plans to release its ruling Friday.
The people say the NCAA notified parties involved in the case Thursday morning.
The oft-delayed case is focused on years of irregular courses in a department requiring a research paper or two. Those courses typically offered high grades and featured significant athlete enrollments.
A federal judge has refused to impose bail for an Adidas representative embroiled in a bribery scandal that's thrown college basketball into turmoil.
Prosecutors urged Judge Katherine Parker to require that James Gatto post $100,000 bond to keep his freedom. The judge instead continued the no-bail conditions set at an earlier court appearance in Oregon.
Lamont Evans, an assistant coach at Oklahoma State who was fired after being charged in the case, appeared on Thursday in the same courtroom. He was freed on $100,000 bond.
Both men and eight other defendants were charged last month in an alleged scheme to bribe assistant coaches in exchange for steering top-flight NBA prospects to a particular agent or financial adviser.
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