The Cubs got a boost from an MVP season by Ryne Sandberg and the acquisition of tall right-hander Rick Sutcliffe, who posted a 16-1 record in 20 games after he was acquired from the Indians. Lee Smith totaled 33 saves, and the Cubs won the NL East with a 96-65 record for their first trip to the postseason since 1945. The euphoria over that feat carried into Game 1, a 13-0 romp over the Padres. Ron Cey, Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews and even Sutcliffe homered to power a 16-hit attack. Chicago won Game 2, 4-2, behind lefty Steve Trout, who went 8 1/3 innings before turning the game over to Smith.
The series then headed west, and the Padres rolled, 7-1, in Game 3, and took Game 4, 7-5, behind Steve Garvey's five RBIs -- including a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth off Smith. In Game 5, Chicago led, 3-0, after two innings, but the Padres rallied for two runs in the sixth and four in the seventh, including a heartbreaking game-tying run on Leon Durham's fielding error when pinch-hitter Tim Flannery's grounder skipped through the first baseman's legs. Tony Gwynn followed with a two-run double, and then scored on Garvey's double to post a 6-3 win. All of the runs in the fateful inning came off Sutcliffe.
• Dress for the NLCS with Cubs gear
• 1989 NLCS: Giants defeat Cubs, 4-1
In 1989, only Sandberg, Sutcliffe and Scott Sanderson remained from the '84 team, and Wrigley Field had lights to host night games. Will Clark carried the Giants, batting .650 (13-for-20) while hitting two home runs -- including a grand slam -- with six RBIs in Game 1, an 11-3 San Francisco win at Wrigley. These were the Boys of Zimmer, led by rookies Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith. Mark Grace tried to keep pace with Clark, and batted .647 (11-for-17) with five extra-base hits and eight RBIs.
The Cubs' only win came in Game 2 at Wrigley, as they knocked Rick Reuschel out in the first inning, scoring six times. In Game 3, Robby Thompson hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Les Lancaster for a 5-4 Giants win. Greg Maddux started Game 4, giving up four runs (three earned) over 3 1/3 innings, but Steve Wilson took the loss, giving up Matt Williams' tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth.
In Game 5, the two teams were tied at 1 heading into the bottom of the eighth, and the Giants had two on and two outs after Mike Bielecki walked both Brett Butler and Thompson. Mitch Williams relieved Bielecki, and Clark greeted him with a two-run single.
• 2003 NLCS: Marlins defeat Cubs, 4-3
In Dusty Baker's first season as manager, the Cubs won the NL Central, powered by Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, and needed five games to beat the Braves in the NL Division Series. The NLCS was tied at 1-1 when it shifted to Miami for Game 3. The Cubs and Marlins were tied at 1 until pinch-hitter Doug Glanville smacked an RBI triple with one out in the 11th for a 5-4 Chicago victory.
Aramis Ramirez hit two home runs and drove in six runs and Matt Clement gave up three runs over 7 2/3 innings for an 8-3 win in Game 4, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the series. But Josh Beckett threw a two-hit shutout in Game 5 for a 4-0 Marlins win and the series headed back to Wrigley Field.
In Game 6, the Cubs had a 3-0 lead and were five outs away from their first trip to the World Series since 1945 when the Marlins rallied for eight runs in the eighth. Florida sent 12 batters to the plate that inning, taking advantage of shortstop Alex Gonzalez's error.
The Cubs had a chance in Game 7, tying the game at 3 on Wood's two-run homer in the second. But the Marlins scored three in the fifth off Wood en route to a 9-6 victory. With the win, the Marlins became the fourth team in LCS history to overcome a 3-1 deficit and advance to the World Series.