Kyle Schwarber started the scoring tonight, taking starter Michael Wacha out to left field for his 18th career home run. It’s also his 18th home run since Jake Arrieta last failed to produce a quality start, which was also Kyle Schwarber’s debut. The Cubs went on to win the game 8-6, although starting pitcher Jake Arrieta failed to go 6 innings, only going 5 2/3, while giving up 4 runs on 9 strikeouts. The Cubs take a commanding 2-1 lead over their NL Central rivals from St. Louis with a chance to clinch and move on to the NLCS tomorrow night.

How it happened:

With a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the third, Jake Arrieta walked the first two hitters he saw. After a Jason Heyward strikeout, Johnny Peralta took a 0-2 curveball and drilled it off the ivy in left field, scoring Stephen Piscotty. A batter later, Tony Pham grounded out scoring Holliday  giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

That lead was short lived as Starlin Castro, who’s had great success in his career against Wacha, took a curveball deep to left field to tie the game a 2. A couple innings later, with Soler on first and rookie phenom Kris Bryant at the plate, Bryant crushed a 2 strike fastball deep into left field, ending Wacha’s night and giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead they’d never look back from.

The Cardinals skipper decided to go with a lefty-lefty matchup bringing in Kevin Siegrist to face Anthony Rizzo, who up till this point had not recorded a hit in the postseason. Then on another two strike pitch, Rizzo took an inside fastball and hammered it out to right field, giving the Cubs their 4th home run of the night, and a 5-2 lead.

In the top of the 6th, Jason Heyward, who like Castro vs Wacha put up good numbers against Arrieta, sent a 1-1 curveball out to left field, cutting the Cubs lead to 1. After a couple strikeouts and HBP of Brandon Moss, Maddon yanked Arrieta, bringing in Clayton Richard who got Wong to ground out to end the inning. It seemed at that point that the Cardinals had grabbed all the momentum, until in the bottom of the 6th with a runner on 1st and 1 out Jorge Soler came to the plate. Matheny decided to bring in Adam Wainwright in to face red hot Soler, and on the first pitch Soler welcomed Wainwright with an absolute bomb to straight away center giving the Cubs a 7-4 lead, and also tying a MLB postseason record for most home runs hit in a single game. Later in the bottom of the 8th Fowler broke that record with a solo shot out to right, giving the Cubs an 8-4 lead, which was huge as Stephen Piscotty hit a 2 run shot in the 9th, before Rondon got Holliday to ground out to end the game.

In the win tonight, Cubs starting shortstop left the game early on a triple to left field. He was diagnosed with tightness in his left hamstring, but said he felt better after getting treatment. Javier Baez entered in his place, going 2-2 but had a few defensive blunders at shortstop. No word yet on if Russell will play tomorrow.

After the game Cardinal’s manager Mike Matheny announced John Lackey will start game 4. Lackey, who also started game 1 going 7 and 1/3 of 2 hit scoreless ball, will be pitching on short rest for only the 3rd time in his career. In his 2 starts on 3 days rest, Lackey is 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in 9 1/3 innings pitched. Also, in 16 road starts this season, Lackey is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 96 2/3 innings pitched. Opposing him on the mound will be Jason Hammel, but expect him to have a short leash if he gets in trouble, and to see a lot of the bullpen.

Other Milestones:

Jorge Soler became the first MLB player ever to reach base safely in his first 9 plate appearances, going 4-4 with 5 walks, 2 home runs and a single and a double. Tonight also marked the first time the Cubs have had the first 6 batters in the order homer in a single game. Kris Bryant joined Kyle Schwarber and Frank Demaree as 1 of three Cubs to make their MLB debut and then hit a postseason home run.

Game time for Game 4 is set for 3:30 central time, at Wrigley Field.

 

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