CHICAGO (AP) — One final, charmed swing by Daniel Murphy, and the New York Mets finished a playoff sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
A new generation of Amazins is heading to the World Series.
Murphy homered for a record sixth consecutive postseason game and the Mets brushed aside the Cubs 8-3 Wednesday night, capping a National League Championship Series in which New York never trailed.
Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer in the first inning and a two-run double in the second, silencing a sellout crowd of 42,227 at Wrigley Field desperately hoping for the beginning of an epic comeback in Game 4.
Not this time. Not with New York’s array of power arms, and Murphy swinging a hot stick that made him the MVP of the matchup.
Manager Terry Collins’ team advanced to the World Series for the first time since they lost to the crosstown Yankees in five games in 2000. They will face Toronto or Kansas City in Game 1 on Tuesday night — the Royals lead 3-2 in the ALCS.
The Cubs, meanwhile, still haven’t won the crown since 1908. Manager Joe Maddon’s wild-card bunch surged into this series, but was overmatched.
When Dexter Fowler looked at a called third strike for the final out, Jeurys Familia dropped to his knees in front of the mound and then hopped up for a hug from catcher Travis d’Arnaud. They were soon joined by the rest of their jubilant teammates in the infield grass at Wrigley Field.
A small, but vocal group of New York fans behind the visiting dugout then chanted “Let’s go, Mets! Let’s go, Mets!”
Right when it looked as if his historic streak was coming to an end, Murphy connected for a two-run drive to center against Fernando Rodney in the eighth inning. The second baseman raised his right arm as he rounded first after his seventh homer of the playoffs.
Murphy, who was tied with Carlos Beltran for the postseason homer streak, finished with four hits and batted .529 (9 for 17).
Duda doubled twice and d’Arnaud also homered for New York, and Bartolo Colon pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings for his first playoff win since 2001, for Cleveland at Seattle. The 14 years, 12 days between postseason victories for the 42-year-old right-hander snapped the major league record of exactly 14 years for Milt Wilcox, according to STATS.
Colon, who made 31 starts this season, replaced rookie Steven Matz with two out in the fifth and runners on first and second. He struck out Kris Bryant swinging on a 3-2 pitch, preserving New York’s 6-1 lead.
Bryant hit a two-run homer in the eighth, but it was way too late for Chicago in its first appearance in the NLCS in 12 years. The Cubs shut out Pittsburgh in the wild-card game and eliminated rival St. Louis in the division series, but were unable to mount much of a challenge against the Mets’ talented pitching staff.
The Cubs also loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, and only came away with one run on Kyle Schwarber’s grounder to first. Starlin Castro lined right to third baseman David Wright on a hard smash for the first out.