(The Sports Xchange) - Miguel Montero said he had been ready for this moment since mid-afternoon.
Entering Saturday night’s National League Championship Series opener as a pinch hitter with two out and bases loaded in the eighth inning, Montero launched an 0-2 pitch from reliever Joe Blanton for a grand slam home run as the Cubs rolled to an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“To be honest, I started getting loose about three o’clock,” Montero said. “As a kid, you dream of these situations and that’s what you live for.”
It was the first time in major league history that a pinch-hit grand slam provided the game-winning run in a post season game.
Dexter Fowler added a solo shot in an explosive eighth as Chicago scored five times on the way to a 1-0 NLCS lead over the Dodgers.
Chicago snapped a 3-3 tie after giving up the lead earlier in the inning after closer Aroldis Chapman was hit for two eighth-inning runs when he entered with bases loaded.
Chapman struck out the first two batters but gave up a two-out single to Adrian Gonzalez that drove in pinch hitters Andrew Toles and Chase Utley to tie the game.
“Throughout his career, Adrian’s gotten so many big hits,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Big hit and, yeah, right there I thought we were going to win it.”
But Ben Zobrist opened the Cubs’ eighth with a double to deep right and Jason Heyward and pinch hitter Chris Coghlan were intentionally walked by Blanton, a right-handed reliever.
That set the stage for the left-handed batting Montero, pinch hitting for Chapman. He sent Blanton’s 0-2 pitch to right to clear the bases. Fowler followed with a solo homer to right.
“I would do the same thing all over again,” Roberts said. “Ten times out of 10 I would take Joe Blanton against Montero. (But) he took a good swing on an 0-2 pitch and it’s going to happen. That’s baseball.”
Chapman blew a save but still earned the victory despite giving up the lead.
“Give Chappy credit for keeping it at two,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “When you’ve given up two runs to tie the game, tendency is maybe the mental letdown. But he did not permit that to happen.”
Blanton took the loss after working just two-thirds of an inning and allowing five runs on four hits while walking a pair.
Cubs starter Jon Lester allowed one run in six innings and retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. But he received a no-decision after allowing just four hits, walking one and striking out three.