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updated: 10/2/2017 8:56 AM

Chicago Cubs NLDS matchup with Nationals too close to call

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  • Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in Washington.

    Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in Washington.

 
 

The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals meet for the first time in the playoffs, with the National League division series getting started Friday at Nationals Park.

On the one side, the Cubs are looking to become the first time since the New York Yankees (1998-2000) to win consecutive World Series.

On the other, the Nationals are in the playoffs for the fourth time in six years and they're looking to advance out of the NLDS for the first time.

There are plenty of stars on both rosters -- Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Wade Davis and Willson Contreras for the Cubs and Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg for the Nats.

If the regular season was any indication, it is going to be a close series between two quality teams.

Washington was 4-3 against the Cubs this year, and here is the game-by-game breakdown:

Cubs 5, Nationals 4 June 26 at Nationals Park

The Cubs held a 5-0 lead until the Nats stormed back with 4 runs in the ninth inning.

With runners on second and third and two outs in the ninth, Davis struck out Zimmerman to preserve the win.

"(Davis) has been one of the best in the game for a while, and he still is," Zimmerman said. "I had one good pitch to hit, and usually that's all you get against guys like that."

Nationals 6, Cubs 1 June 27 at Nationals Park

This was the Miguel Montero game.

After Cubs starter Jake Arrieta issued 6 walks in 4 innings, and Washington stole seven bases with the right-hander on the mound, Montero spoke his mind.

"The reason why they were running left and right today is because they know (Arrieta) was slow to the plate," the catcher said. "It really (stunk) because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn't give me any time."

The Cubs released Montero a day later.

Nationals 8, Cubs 4 June 28 at Nationals Park

Still reeling from a rough game the day before, the Cubs weren't able to do much against Strasburg.

Pitching 7 innings, Strasburg piled up 13 strikeouts and was backed by Harper's 2 doubles and 2 RBI.

"He had it going on tonight," Washington manager Dusty Baker said of Strasburg. "You could just sort of tell when he left last night that he was going to be ready. Today, he had that kind of look in his eyes."

Cubs 5, Nationals 4 June 29 at Nationals Park

Trailing 4-2 in the ninth inning, the Cubs rallied with 3 runs and salvaged a split in the series.

"Anytime you get a win like that, especially against a team like that, it's awesome," said Tommy La Stella, who got the comeback started with an RBI single in the ninth. "You never want to say you need a win, because we didn't, but it was certainly nice to get that one."

Nationals 4, Cubs 2 Aug. 4 at Wrigley Field

Second baseman Daniel Murphy always seems to do big damage at Wrigley, and he sparked Washington with a pair of home runs in the series opener.

"We're really excited about coming in and seeing if we can win a series," Murphy said. "That's what it's all about this time of year."

Cubs 7, Nationals 4 Aug. 5 at Wrigley Field

Taking a break from catching, Contreras stayed in the Cubs' lineup in left field and did big damage at the plate, hitting a home run and driving in 3 runs.

"I had to keep him in the lineup," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's swinging the bat so well."

Nationals 9, Cubs 4 Aug. 6 at Wrigley Field

With the season series tied at 3-3, Washington won the deciding game with a 5-run outburst in the eighth inning.

The game was tied at 4-4 in the eighth when Matt Wieters hit a grand slam off Carl Edwards Jr. to break the game open.

The Nats played the series without Scherzer and Strasburg, who were injured, and No. 3 starter Gio Gonzalez was on paternity leave.

"We're kind of a MASH unit out there, but everybody is contributing," Baker said. "That helps a lot when you can take two out of three without your top starters."

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