Goodbye Nationals, hello Dodgers.

In a game for the ages, one that lasted 4 hours and 37 minutes, the Cubs advanced to the National League Championship Series with a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

The defending World Series champions took the best-of-five series 3-2 and will next face the Dodgers in the NLCS with Game 1 scheduled for Saturday in Los Angeles.

The Cubs took an early lead on an Anthony Rizzo RBI groundout in the first, but the Nationals roared back with four in the fourth, three of them coming on a Michael A. Taylor home run. Daniel Murphy also homered in the inning.

In the third, the Cubs trimmed their deficit with runs on a Addison Russell groundout and wild pitch.

The Cubs exploded for four runs in the fifth to grab a 7-4 lead they never relinquished. The big blow was a two-out, two-run double by Russell. They tacked on runs on a throwing error by Nats catcher Matt Wieters and when Jon Jay was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Russell knocked in another run with a double in the top of the sixth to make it 8-4 Cubs but the Nationals kept coming and scored on a wild pitch by Mike Montgomery and then an RBI double by Murphy.

Now leading 8-6, the Cubs got another run when Kyle Schwarber scored on a groundout by Bryant in the seventh.

The Nationals made it 9-7 on a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning and cut the deficit to one on a Taylor run-scoring single in the eighth.

At the plate

Russell went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, Jay 2-for-4 with an RBI and Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist each scored twice for the Cubs.

Taylor went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Murphy was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Nationals.

On the mound

Kyle Hendricks started for the Cubs and went four innings during which the right-hander yielded four runs on nine hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

The bullpen has a rocky game but Wade Davis came on and got seven outs to earn the save.

For the Nationals, Gio Gonzalez got the start and allowed three runs on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts in three innings.

After Matt Albers pitched a scoreless fourth, Max Scherzer came on and gave up four runs—two earned—on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.

In the field

In the bottom of the first, Javier Baez made a terrific play to save a run on a ball hit by Bryce Harper. The Cubs second baseman gloved the grounder and fired home where Contreras tagged out the speedy Trea Turner.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Cubs right-fielder Jason Heyward got a terrific jump on a rocket hit by Matt Wieters and made the catch in the corner to end the threat and the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, Contreras picked Jose Lobaton off first base to end another Nationals threat.

The quote

“It’s either exultation or being a bug on a windshield. You feel great and it's euphoric, it really is, when you win that game and you move on to the next round.” – Cubs manager Joe Maddon

Up next

vs. the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday in Los Angeles.

— Chris Kuc

Follow along below for live game updates, tweets, photos and more from Thursday night's Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Cubs and Nationals at Nationals Park.