CHICAGO -- About the time Travis Wood was dousing Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein with champagne Tuesday night, Epstein was explaining the prevailing theory of roster construction.
"You build it for 162 (games) and you watch it play out, "Epstein said.
"You build it for the postseason and you pray."
So far, so good for the favored Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who advanced to meet in the National League Championship Series after difficult NLDS challenges from San Francisco and Washington, respectively. The first two games of the best-of-seven series are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs beat the Giants in four games with a four-run rally in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, only the second time in playoff history a team had scored four runs in the ninth inning to win a postseason clincher. The Mets did it to the Boston Red Sox in 1986.
"When you go through these moments, I think they make you better, and it makes you continue to focus," said Cubs catcher David Ross, who homered and hit a sacrifice fly in Game 4. "We've been through a lot of these with comebacks in the ninth. You just continue to grind. It just says a lot about the character of these guys in the young group. They continue to fight."
The Cubs, who won a major league-high 103 games in the regular season and have been favored to win the World Series since the playoffs began, have won 10 games this season when they trailed entering the ninth, including Tuesday's game.
Not that the Dodgers are fazed by being labeled underdogs.
"For us, it's just a lot of noise," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think it comes down to 25 players against one another. It really doesn't matter to us, to (be) quite honest."
The Dodgers advanced to the NLCS just as unconventionally, with a 4-3 victory at Washington in Game 5 on Thursday. Trailing 1-0 entering the seventh inning, the Dodgers scored four runs in that inning to go ahead, then held on by using closer Kenley Jansen to get seven outs and set up three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, who got the final two outs with the tying run on base.
Jansen threw 51 pitches, but Roberts would not rule them out for use this weekend.
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, a top Cy Young candidate, opposes Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda in Game 1. Lester gave up five hits and no walks in eight shutout innings of a 1-0 victory over the Giants in the first game of the NLDS last Friday.
Maeda gave up four runs in three innings of the Dodgers' Game 3 loss on Sunday and will be pitching on regular rest.
The Cubs and Dodgers were eliminated by the NL champion Mets last season. New York beat the Dodgers in five games in the NLDS and then swept the Cubs in four games in the NLCS.
The Cubs may need to improve their hitting in order to advance to their first World Series since 1945, although batting averages are normally down in the playoffs because of the quality of pitching.
Kris Bryant and Javier Baez had six hits apiece in the Giants series, and Wilson Contreras was 4-for-6. All were major players in the Game 4 rally -- Bryant singled to open the ninth. Ben Zobrist doubled in one run, Contreras singled in two to tie the game, and Baez drove in the game-winner before Aroldis Chapman recorded his third save of the series.
Pitchers have driven in six of the Cubs' 17 runs this postseason -- three coming on starter Jake Arrieta's three-run homer in Game 3. Dexter Fowler has two hits while Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell all have one through four games.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was 6-for-15 in the NLDS, and his double drove in the final run Thursday. Joc Pederson, whose homer off Max Scherzer began the Dodgers' four-run rally, was 5-for-15. Shortstop Corey Seager, the certain NL Rookie of the Year, was 3-for-23, although two of his hits were homers.