The panic mode was short-lived.
The Washington Nationals on Wednesday defeated the world champion Chicago Cubs 5-0 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, winning on the road to stave off elimination and force a decisive Game 5 back in D.C.
Stephen Strasburg, who was questionable to even play just hours before game time after developing flu-like symptoms, was as dominant as he was in the Nats’ Game 1 loss, but this time he received some offensive support.
With the Nationals clinging to a 1-0 lead in the eighth, center fielder Michael A. Taylor belted a grand slam off Cubs reliever Wade Davis to put Washington comfortably ahead, and the bullpen pitched two hitless innings to close the deal.
The slam was the first in Nationals/Expos postseason franchise history.
Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 12, adding to the pitching dominance Washington has displayed throughout the series.
Though the Nats’ bats have went cold at the wrong time so far this postseason, the eighth inning seems to be the charm for them, with nine of Washington’s 12 runs throughout this series coming in the eighth.
The series returns to Nationals Park Thursday at 8 p.m. for the winner-take-all Game 5. A victory by Washington would send the franchise to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1981, when they were the Montreal Expos.