The Washington Nationals will start Gio Gonzalez for the deciding Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night, the team announced.
The defending champions have a paltry .159 batting average in the NLDS, so winning the decisive game on the road requires their offense to break out.
The Cubs, looking to defend their championship, and the Nationals, fighting for their first series win, will throw everything into the decisive game for a chance to face the National League’s best team.
Gonzalez, who gets the start over Tanner Roark, will start against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks at Nationals Park. The Nationals also will have Max Scherzer available in the bullpen as they try to win their first playoff series in four attempts since moving in 2005 to Washington, D.C.
Gonzalez pitched Game 2 against the Cubs, getting a no-decision in the Nationals’ 6-3 victory. In that game, Gonzalez went five innings, giving up three runs on three hits — two home runs — and two walks. He struck out six.
Hendricks gets the start for the World Series champions after throwing seven sharp innings in a 3-0 victory over Strasburg in Game 1. The Cubs are 4-2 in games started by Hendricks over the last two postseasons, with both losses by a 1-0 score.
The winner of Thursday’s game will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.