CHICAGO (AP) " Best in the major leagues during the regular season, the Chicago Cubs are one win from reaching the National League Championship Series for the second straight year after beating the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Saturday.
Travis Wood took over when Chicago starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks got hurt and he became the first relief pitcher since 1924 to hit a home run in a playoff game.
Now Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, coming off a shutout in the NL wild card game, must try to save their season when he takes the mound in Game 3 on Monday in San Francisco.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon remains wary of the Giants, World Series champions in 2010, '12 and '14.
"You watch how they react to different moments," Maddon said . "They're never panicked. They're never concerned. ... I really believe our guys will come ready to play knowing that they are also. That's just a given."
The Cubs, who will start reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta in Game 3, are now one win from a matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals.
The Dodgers-Nationals game was rained out and postponed until Sunday.
Chicago led the big leagues with 103 wins during the regular season and is hoping for its first World Series title since 1908.
Ben Zobrist hit a run-scoring single off former Cubs and now Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija in the first inning, and Hendricks added a two-run single in a three-run second.
The Cubs were leading 4-2 in the fourth when Hendricks left the game after with a bruised right forearm after being hit by a line drive.
Wood came in an ended the top of the inning, then in the bottom half he hit a George Kontos pitch halfway up the left-field bleachers in the bottom half. The only other reliever to homer in the postseason was the New York Giants' Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series.
Hendricks, the major league ERA leader, gave up two runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"We picked him up tonight, having his injury and stuff and that's what we have done all year long," Wood said. "We pull on each other and end up backing each other up."
Samardzija's first career playoff start was a short one. He was lifted after three innings, having given up four runs and six hits.
"Just can't put your team in that much of a hole early in the game, especially against a good staff like they have over there," Samardzija said. "Like to have that one back, for sure, that one's on me."
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings