The Cubs lit up two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and giving hope to the faithful for a return trip to the National League Championship Series.
Scherzer entered the game with a 4-3 lead, then allowed back-to-back two-out singles by Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist. Addison Russell doubled to score two, giving the Cubs their first lead since the first inning.
An error and passed ball helped Russell score and then John Jay was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Jason Heyward. Scherzer saw nine Cubs batters in the inning, beginning and ending with outs at shortstop by Kris Bryant.
The lengthy fifth inning and a long second inning in which the Nationals scored four runs on homers by Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor led to a game that exceeded three hours. The final out came after this edition of The Times went to press. For complete coverage, visit nwi.com.
The Nationals tabbed Gio Gonzalez to start against the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks.
Gonzalez lasted three innings and left with a 4-3 lead.
Hendricks was replaced in the fifth by Brian Duensing, who tossed 2/3 inning and allowed a walk and a strikeout. Pedro Strop closed out the fifth serving a strikeout to Michael A. Taylor.
The Nationals announced their starter on Twitter a little less than six hours before the deciding game was scheduled to begin at their stadium.
Exactly five years ago to the day, Gonzalez was the starter in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, a contest Washington led 6-0 before losing 9-7.
"Didn't do too well," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, "so I'm sure redemption is on his mind.
"Everybody is on call," Baker said, adding that Scherzer "possibly" would be available to throw two innings if needed. Scherzer lasted just the one, throwing 28 pitches.
Hendricks was the winning pitcher in Chicago's 3-0 victory in Game 1 at Nationals Park, allowing only two singles in seven innings.
Gonzalez started Game 2 of the series, also in Washington, and allowed three runs in five innings of what became a 6-3 victory for the Nationals. He gave up homers to Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo, left while trailing 3-1 and did not factor in the decision.
The Nationals have never won a postseason series, exiting in the NLDS after winning NL East titles in 2012, 2014 and 2016. They lost in four games to the San Francisco Giants in 2014, then lost another Game 5 at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.