SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cubs didn't need to look at the flags hanging on the left-field wall at AT&T Park or consult the calendar to confirm it was, indeed, an even year. They appreciated how difficult a foe the Giants proved to be in the National League Division Series by simply watching them compete for four straight games.
The Cubs prevailed in the NLDS, three games to one, and advanced to the NL Championship Series (Game 1 Saturday on FS1, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT) with a 6-5 win over the Giants on Tuesday night. Fittingly, it was a one-run game. The two clubs met 11 times this year, and eight of those matchups were decided by a single run.
Chicago won 16 more games than San Francisco in the regular season and cruised into October as the undisputed favorite in the NL. But the Giants put up a fight, dropping 1-0 and 5-2 decisions in Games 1 and 2 and proving their grit in a 6-5, 13-inning Game 3 win, their 10th straight elimination-game victory.
With a more stable bullpen, the Giants might have sent the series back to Wrigley Field for Game 5 on Thursday. Instead, the Cubs finally snapped the Giants' never-say-die streak.
"I do want to congratulate the Giants," manager Joe Maddon said. "I've known [San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy] for a long time. I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him and how he does things and this entire organization. I have a lot of friends in this organization. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Willie Mays before the game today, which was really special for me.
"For us to be able to win today ... to beat [the Giants] in this ballpark is not easy, and it's -- the way [they] do things, I think it's very admirable and a great example for the rest of the industry."
At times, the series felt closer than even the final 3-1 margin might suggest. Game 1 was a magnificent pitchers' duel between Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto.
Giants left-hander Matt Moore was electric in Game 4, striking out 10 batters and limiting the Cubs to two runs on two hits in eight innings.
"You've got to tip your cap to Matt Moore. He pitched a heck of a game," Kris Bryant said. "They played us tough. It was just great baseball overall."
Game 3 was an instant classic, a back-and-forth affair that displayed the resiliency of both clubs and offered a snapshot of the key component to the Giants' three World Series runs since 2010. But in the end, the Cubs shoved aside the even-year dynasty and moved on to the next challenge.
"We show nothing but the utmost respect for those guys and how they go about their business," Lester said. "They're a very classy organization and a classy team."
Adam Berry has covered baseball for MLB.com since 2011. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.