Cubs stay loose, even se­ries at 1

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY ADAM KILGORE

st. louis— The­bur­de­nof history and the des­per­a­tion of the present may have un­set­tled a fan or two Satur­day af­ter­noon on the North Side of Chicago. The pres­sure of 1908 and the rugged­ness of the St. Louis Car­di­nals may have im­pelled them to guz­zle Old Styles less for the buzz than to quell nerves. The Cubs al­ways lose this time of year, the Car­di­nals al­ways win, and it was hap­pen­ing again. “It’s al­ways the pre­rog­a­tive of a fan to worry,” Cub­sMan­ager JoeMad­don said. “I ab­so­lutely be­lieve in that. That’s what bar rooms are for.”

That is not, ac­cord­ing to Mad­don’s doc­trine, what club­houses are for. Maybe a dif­fer­ent vintage of Cubs would tighten. Not this ver­sion. “I don’t vi­brate at that fre­quency,” Mad­don said. And so the Cubs ar­rived Satur­day af­ter­noon at Busch Sta­dium and dis­cov­ered Mad­don had made bat­ting prac­tice op­tional. Pregame, the sun-splashed diamond re­mained void of Cubs hit­ters. Any swings hap­pened in the cage

Mets at Dodgers, Game 2

Last night, late

Roy­als at Astros, Game 3

To­day, 4:10 p.m., MLB Net­work

Blue Jays at Rangers, Game 3

To­day, 8:10 p.m., Fox Sports 1

down the tun­nel from the dugout. Bat­ting prac­tice when you’re two losses from win­ter? Let some­one else worry.

Tak­ing aim at a 107-year-old droughtre­quires au­dac­ity, andthe Cubs showed some in their 6-3 vic­tory in Game 2 of the Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries. The ri­vals are now even in the se­ries at 1 and re­main starkly dif­fer­ent in ap­proach. Three hours be­fore the first pitch, Car­di­nals play­ers trick­led from the first base dugout and lined up at in­field po­si­tions for or­derly ground­ball prac­tice. Their de­vo­tion to prepa­ra­tion could not ac­count for a pitcher stand­ing flat­footed in the in­field grass and throw­ing their op­po­nent back into the se­ries.

The Car­di­nals’ vaunted fun­da­men­tals dis­in­te­grated Satur­day af­ter­noon in the sec­ond in­ning, when start­ing pitcher JaimeGar­cia botched a sac­ri­fice bunt roughly 16 dif­fer­ent ways and the Cubs scored three times on plays that did not in­clude a ball ex­it­ing the in­field. They added another pair of run­son Jorge Soler’s mam­moth two-run homer off Gar­cia, one of four times Soler reached afte rMad­don in­serted him in right field for Kyle Sch­war­ber. The blast pro­vided a large enough cush­ion for the Cubs to with­stand the three solo home runs the Car­di­nals smashed off starter Kyle Hen­dricks.

The se­ries will restart Mon­day at Wrigley Field, whose ivied walls will make their first post­sea­son ap­pear­ance since 2008. The Cubs now pos­sess both home-field ad­van­tage and the right arm of Game 3 starter Jake Ar­ri­eta, who has gone 12-0 with a 0.39 ERA in his last 13 starts, in­clud­ing the shut out he tossed in the wild-card playin game. The Car­di­nals, mean­while, used Game 4 starter Lance Lynn for anin­ning af­ter Gar­cial eft af­ter two in­nings with a stom­ach virus. Count­ing out the Car­di­nals in Oc­to­ber is folly, but they are now climb­ing up­hill.

They can blame only their own stun­ning slop­pi­ness. Matt Car­pen­ter staked them to an im­me­di­ate lead with a lead­off home run, giv­ing the Cubs a deficit to con­front next to the fresh mem­o­ries of get­ting shut out in Game 1. And then in the sec­ond, all hell broke loose.

Star­lin Cas­tro led off the in­ning with a sin­gle up the mid­dle, a stan­dard enough start. Austin Jack­son rolled a po­ten­tial dou­ble play to short­stop, but sec­ond base­man Kolten Wong lost his grip on the ball and tossed it into the dugout, push­ing Jack­son to sec­ond. Jack­son would steal third base off Yadier Molina, and when Miguel Mon­tero walked to put run­ners on the corners with one out, it seemed an in­op­por tune mo­ment for Mad­don to have bat­ted his pitcher eighth.

Try­ing to make the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion, Ken­dricks dead­ened a bunt to­ward first base. Gar­cia scam­pered to field it. Jack­son bolted home, seem­ingly a case of ill-ad­vised ag­gres­sion. Gar­cia could­have flipped the ball home in plenty of time. In­stead, he spun to­ward first. Re­al­iz­ing his mis­take too late, Gar­cia twisted and glanced at Jack­son cross­ing the plate.

Hav­ing corkscrewed his feet in an awk­ward po­si­tion, Gar­cia turned back to­ward first and flung the ball with a stilted whip of his arm. The ball bounded into foul ter­ri­tory and de­flected into shal­low right field. The Car­di­nals had gifted the Cubs both a run and a rally.

With run­ners on sec­ond and third, sens­ing ap­pre­hen­sion, Mad­don re­mained ag­gres­sive. Ad­di­son Rus­sell fol­lowed with another bunt, a per­fect squeeze up the first base line that plated Mon­tero and gave the Cubs their first lead of the se­ries. Dex­ter Fowler’s chop­per over the mound added another run.

The Cubs had scored three runs with­out hit­ting a ball into the out­field, andthen Sol­er­damn­n­ear hit one off the Arch. He clob­bered a hang­ing slider over the cen­ter field fence. The­mas­sive­g­old chain around his neck bounced as he trot­ted around the bases.

The Car­di­nals tend not to don jew­elry that re­sem­bles a bronzed fan belt, a su­per­fi­cial state­ment about their ap­proach. Be­cause the Cubs have a dif­fer­ent style does not mean it can’t work for them, and Satur­day their loose­ness de­liv­ered a vic­tory. The Car­di­nals quaked. The Cubs rolled. When they get to Chicago, a party seven years in the mak­ing will be on. So will the se­ries.


St. Louis cen­ter fielder Ja­sonHey­ward can only watch as Jorge Soler’s two-run homer lands out of his reach to cap Chicago’s five-run sec­ond.


MiguelMon­tero drives home the Cubs’ fi­nal run with a ground­out in the third in­ning. All five Chicago runs in the sec­ond were un­earned.

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