Cubs put squeeze (twice) on Cardinals, even NLDS with 6-3 win
ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia wasn't feeling well, and he pitched like it.
The St. Louis Cardinals' left-hander insisted he was OK to play despite having a stomach virus for three days. Garcia then made a key error and allowed five unearned runs in the second inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night that evened the NL Division Series at a game apiece.
"It's totally my bad," Garcia said. "It's on me, no excuse. Just got to do a better job than that."
Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell had successful squeeze bunts and Jorge Soler's two-run homer capped the rally that ended Garcia's horrid outing at two innings and led to questions about the rotation going forward.
Another chance would be nice.
"I'll be ready," Garcia said, "whenever they ask me."
Lance Lynn, the presumptive Game 4 starter but coming off a shaky final month of the regular season, replaced Garcia in the third as the first in a parade of relievers.
Manager Mike Matheny said Lynn was held back from a side session just in case he'd be needed. He also could go with lefty Tyler Lyons, who had a strong finish to the regular season, and Garcia threw just 45 pitches.
"I don't think we rule anything out," Matheny said. "My usual answer, we've got a game in between that we're mostly focused on right now, so we go out and play."
Manager Joe Maddon made all the right moves a night after the Cubs lost the opener 4-0. Now the teams shift to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Monday, where Chicago's 22-game winner Jake Arrieta faces St. Louis' Michael Wacha in the best-of-five series.
"Listen, I can't be more proud of our guys," Maddon said. "When you win a Wild Card Game like we did, I promise you, you settle in. We didn't win yesterday, but we were not overwhelmed by anything."
The usually steady NL Central champion Cardinals made two errors as the Cubs didn't hit the ball out of the infield in scoring their first three runs in the second. Second baseman Kolten Wong had a throwing error in an ill-advised attempt at turning a double play that helped fuel the rally.
Dexter Fowler, Soler and Starlin Castro each had two of Chicago's six hits in a game played in front of a crowd of 47,859, a postseason record at 10-year-old Busch Stadium, that included thousands of Cubs fans. Soler made his first postseason start.
Besides the two-run homer, Soler doubled and walked twice in the Cubs' first postseason victory since 2003. Chicago had lost seven straight Division Series games.
The Cardinals homered three times, including a leadoff long ball by Matt Carpenter. Consecutive shots by Wong and pinch hitter Randal Grichuk with two outs in the fifth chased Hendricks one out shy of qualifying for the victory in his postseason debut.
Travis Wood (1-0) allowed one hit with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the victory. Hector Rondon, briefly stuck in the bullpen bathroom during Game 1, earned the save.
The Cubs capitalized when Garcia blew a play on a safety squeeze by Hendricks. The pitcher hesitated instead of throwing home with a very good chance of cutting down the run, then made a wild, flat-footed throw to first for an error.
With runners on first and third and one out, Garcia said because it was a hard bunt his first instinct was to go to second for a double play. He heard catcher Yadier Molina yelling but wasn't sure what was said.
"You've got to go home and try for that out," Garcia said. "I don't care if Yadi says something or not, that should be me."
Russell, the next batter, squeezed in another run, and Dexter Fowler had an RBI infield hit before Soler drove a high 2-2 pitch over the center-field wall.
One big positive was Adam Wainwright. The two-time 20-game winner, coming off a torn left Achilles in late April, fanned three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings, his fourth appearance since being injured and first of more than an inning.
"That was just so special the way the crowd embraced me," Wainwright said. "The hair was standing up on my arms."
Wainwright is not an option to start because the team hasn't had time to stretch him out.
Hendricks allowed three homers in 4 2/3 innings. He had 17 no-decisions in the regular season, most in the majors.
Kris Bryant went 0 for 4, with three groundouts and a strikeout. He is 3 for 34 with no RBIs in his last nine games.
Ted Simmons, inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame earlier this year, threw out the ceremonial the first pitch. Simmons had been a senior adviser to the Mariners general manager but said he'd been let go.
Cardinals: The outing was Garcia's shortest of the year. He had a pair of four-inning starts the final month, one of them against the Cubs.
Wong's last nine postseason hits have gone for extra bases, matching the major league record shared by Miguel Cabrera and Jayson Werth. ... Grichuk's homer gave the Cardinals two homers in three pinch-hit at-bats this series.
Wacha (17-7, 3.38) was St. Louis top winner with 17 but he struggled the final month, going 2-3 with a 7.88 ERA. "I think his highs far outweigh his lows," Wainwright said. Arrieta (22-6, 1.77) is the Cubs' biggest winner since Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins was 24-13 in 1971. He tossed a shutout in the Wild Card Game.