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NL Division Series A

Holy pow: Cubs in NLCS, make Wrigley history!

CHICAGO -- In January, Anthony Rizzo boldly predicted the Cubs would win the National League Central. They may have come up short in that quest, but on Tuesday, they did one better. They knocked off the powerful Cardinals to clinch the NL Division Series.

Rizzo hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning to power the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS, and he had nothing but praise for St. Louis.

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CHICAGO -- In January, Anthony Rizzo boldly predicted the Cubs would win the National League Central. They may have come up short in that quest, but on Tuesday, they did one better. They knocked off the powerful Cardinals to clinch the NL Division Series.

Rizzo hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning to power the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS, and he had nothing but praise for St. Louis.

View Full Game Coverage

Dress for the NLCS with Cubs gear

"We just beat a really good team," Rizzo said of St. Louis, which led all of baseball with 100 wins. "They know how to win. They've dealt with so many injuries, and they still were the best team in baseball. How they did that, no one has any idea. I think some of their guys don't even know how they did it, but that's a credit to their organization and how good they are.

:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Results ::

"We're going to celebrate this. We deserve to celebrate this. It's been a long time coming for this city, and hopefully it's just a sign of things to come."

It's the first time the Cubs have ever clinched a postseason series at Wrigley Field, and the players, including Rizzo, sprayed each other and then the fans with champagne. The NL Championship Series doesn't start until Saturday.

Rizzo connected on an 0-2 pitch from Kevin Siegrist, and it was his second home run in as many at-bats over as many games against the Cardinals' lefty. The two at-bats were completely different, Rizzo said.

"All three sliders [Tuesday]," Rizzo said. "The first night was all fastballs. There's no cat-and-mouse game with these teams. We know what everyone has. We know what their pitchers have. They know what we have. ... I don't know how I got him, but it was just an unbelievable game overall."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo crushes a homer for 5-4 lead

Kyle Schwarber made a prediction of his own on Tuesday, telling teammate Dexter Fowler he was going to hit a home run. And he did. The rookie led off the Cubs' seventh with his third postseason home run, and the ball would've landed in Lake Michigan if not for the video board in right field.

Cut4: Kyle Schwarber called his HR over scoreboard

"We were out in center field, and Joe [Maddon] was making a pitching change, and I was just joking around," Schwarber said of his called shot. "I said, 'I'm going to hit a home run off this guy,' and [Fowler] is like, 'Well, do it.' There you go."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Schwarber blasts 419-foot homer

Confident? The Cubs' kids are oozing with confidence. Don't bother mentioning how long it's been since the team played in a World Series. They're focused on the here and now.

"Our guys don't buy into the old narratives," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "They're doing it for each other, the whole organization. The pressure, the history doesn't bother these guys. They're young. They're innocent in a great way. They were in instructional league last year. You think they're worried about history? They're worried about getting their laundry done in time for Saturday."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo, Schwarber discuss victory

Schwarber was the only one in instructs last October, and yes, he most likely will be scrambling to wash the champagne out of his clothes in time for the NLCS.

"It's been a crazy ride," the rookie said, "and I'm blessed to be here. It could have been a totally different story if I was on a different team. Coming into this organization, and them believing in me all the way from our front office to our ownership to our coaches -- and then when I did come up with our players, they made it so easy on me to come up and just do my job, and that's play baseball. It could have been, 'Rookie this, rookie that, you do that.' It wasn't any of that. It was, 'You're here to help us win, let's go.'"

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Schwarber on the past season

Schwarber now has hit safely in all four of his postseason starts and is 5-for-10, so far.

"We're good baseball players," Schwarber said of the Cubs' rookies. "That's why we're here. You can't look at it as young. We're baseball players. We know what needs to be done, and so whatever situation comes up, we'll get it done."

The Cubs are the first team in postseason history to have four players 23 or younger hit home runs, with Javier Baez hitting a three-run homer in the second inning and Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler connecting in Game 3.

Super sub: Baez delivers big blast for Cubs

How far can they go? Epstein said he talked to Pearl Jam lead singer and Cubs fan Eddie Vedder, who was at the game, about what the 2015 team is doing and the music business.

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo on the Cubs advancing to the NLCS

"This is like our first record," Epstein said. "You put that record out, and then things blow up and it's a wonderful time of innocence and exceeding expectations, bursting on the national scene.

"These guys care so much about each other. Maybe it'll get more complicated as time goes by, but I don't think it'll get any less special. They really care about each other. These guys not only have a lot of talent, but a lot of character. To see it manifest on such a big stage is incredible."

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber

With first Wrigley clinch, Cubs move on to NLCS

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- For the first time in the history of Wrigley Field, the Cubs clinched a postseason series at home, edging the mighty Cardinals, 6-4, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs now can party as they wait to see whether they'll face the Mets or the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, which opens on Saturday.

"We beat the Cardinals -- these guys are like our older brothers and they've been kicking sand in our face for 100 years," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "There's a lot of similarities to when [the Red Sox] knocked off the Yankees in '04. This one just gives us a nice date on Saturday."

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CHICAGO -- For the first time in the history of Wrigley Field, the Cubs clinched a postseason series at home, edging the mighty Cardinals, 6-4, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs now can party as they wait to see whether they'll face the Mets or the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, which opens on Saturday.

"We beat the Cardinals -- these guys are like our older brothers and they've been kicking sand in our face for 100 years," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "There's a lot of similarities to when [the Red Sox] knocked off the Yankees in '04. This one just gives us a nice date on Saturday."

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Javier Baez joined the young Cubs power corps with a three-run home run, Anthony Rizzo delivered a tiebreaking solo shot with two outs in the sixth and Kyle Schwarber nearly reached Lake Michigan with a leadoff blast in the seventh to spark Chicago to victory and a 3-1 Series win. Despite posting the best record in baseball, St. Louis, which had reached the NLCS the last four years in a row, now heads home.

Shop for postseason gear

"It's disappointing," said Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, whose comeback season ended with two scoreless innings in relief on Tuesday. "We don't set our sights in Spring Training for getting in the postseason just [to] go home in the first round. That's never what we aspire to do or be. It's painful when you lose, for sure. I can't get away from all the things we overcame this year to even get here. But losing is losing. It's never easy. There's nothing we can do. We have no regrets. We absolutely went about this thing the right way. We left it all on the line, and we got beat."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo crushes a homer for 5-4 lead

Baez was filling in for injured shortstop Addison Russell, and all manager Joe Maddon wanted was solid glove work from the 22-year-old. Baez added some punch as the Cubs became the first team in postseason history to have four players 23 or younger hit home runs, joining Kris Bryant, Schwarber and Jorge Soler, who each connected on Monday in Game 3. Baez's blast came off Cardinals right-hander John Lackey, who was starting on short rest in the postseason for the third time in his career.

"He hit a tough pitch, especially that time of the day with the shadows," Bryant said of Baez's blast. "I couldn't see the ball my first at-bat and he goes up there and hits a three-run homer."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Baez crushes three-run shot for the lead

Rizzo's home run came off an 0-2 pitch from Kevin Siegrist, and was his second in as many games against the Cardinals' lefty. Rizzo is the first player in Cubs postseason history to smack a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning or later of a series-clinching game.

"You can't pitch like that in the postseason," said Siegrist, who had kept Rizzo without an extra-base hit in 22 regular-season plate appearances. "There's no excuse for that. I'll learn from it. I'll be better next year for it."

DYK? Cardinals-Cubs NLDS Game 4

This was only the third time the Cubs have won consecutive postseason games at home. They also did so in 1907 in the World Series against the Tigers and again in 1984 against the Padres in the NLCS. Chicago entered this postseason 0-11 all time in any series in which they lost Game 1.

"This is a team that was as impressive to watch from Day One as any team I've ever been around, and just a collection of skill and fight and character and just all the way across the board from the veteran guys leading to the young guys figuring out a way to contribute," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It was a special group."

Rogers: Ricketts, Cubs exhale, look ahead to NLCS

Both starting pitchers -- the Cubs' Jason Hammel and Lackey -- completed just three innings, and this marked the second time a team has clinched an NLDS in which the starter hasn't completed more than three innings. Wainwright exited after 2 1/3 innings in 2012 as the Cards defeated the Nationals in Game 5.

Chicago scored 14 runs combined in Games 3-4, and all but one came on a home run. The other was courtesy of pitcher Hammel's RBI single in the second inning of Game 4.

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo on the Cubs advancing to the NLCS

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Midas touch: It seemed Hammel was on a short leash as Maddon had Justin Grimm warming up in the top of the second inning, and Grimm continued to throw in the 'pen in the bottom half of the frame. But rather than lift Hammel for a pinch-hitter with two on and two outs, Maddon stuck with the pitcher, a .169 batter, and Hammel delivered an RBI single. Baez then followed with his opposite-field three-run homer. More >

How close was Maddon to pinch-hitting for Hammel?

"Real close," Maddon said. "If the bases would have been loaded it would have been [Tommy] La Stella. The fact it was first and second and 'Hammer,' he can handle the bat pretty well, which he showed you with a base hit to center field, but it was pretty close."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Hammel singles home Castro in the 2nd

Looking Grimm: Grimm squashed a potential fourth-inning rally for the Cardinals after they chased Hammel from his start. After Jhonny Peralta drew a leadoff walk, Maddon turned to Grimm, and Randal Grichuk reached on a Bryant fielding error. Kolten Wong, Tony Cruz and pinch-hitter Tommy Pham went down swinging. Pham hit for Lackey, thereby ending his day after three innings and 49 pitches.

"You know, there are a lot of things going in a good direction for that team," Matheny said of the Cubs. "You've got a lot of talent, no question. You had some pitching that stepped up tremendously, and everybody kind of finding their role and some of the younger guys kind of taking those big roles."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Grimm fans the side to end the threat

Penmanship: The Cubs' pitching staff finished with 48 strikeouts in the four-game series, and the 15 on Tuesday set a postseason franchise record, surpassing 14 in Game 1 of the 2003 NLDS against the Braves. Grimm, making his first postseason appearance, accounted for three of those K's in the fourth. More >

"We've been talking for the last 10 days how good [Grimm] is and how great of a year he's had -- all of them, we've had the same conversations with Travis Wood, Hector Rondon, [Pedro Strop]," Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said. "There's peaks and valleys in every season. These guys are stepping up at the right time."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Maddon on clutch work by bullpen

Powerful Piscotty: Before the Cubs plated four runs on two pitches, the Cardinals opened the game with two runs on four pitches. Stephen Piscotty followed a Matt Carpenter leadoff single with a blast that Statcast™ tracked to have traveled a projected 407 feet with an exit velocity of 109 mph off Piscotty's bat. With the home run, Piscotty set a Cardinals Division Series rookie record with six RBIs. He also joins Charlie Keller (1939 World Series) as the only rookies to hit three home runs in their first four postseason games. More >

"It was a good start to the game," Piscotty said. "Two runs though, I didn't think that would be enough. We knew we needed more. … It was a lot of fun. I got a taste of it now, and I just want more and more of it."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Statcast™ on Piscotty's two-run shot

QUOTABLE
"The celebration in this room is about the players and Joe, but the fact is, the fans, all these years -- and I don't mean like 1908, but the last few years where we've said we've got to do it the right way, and it'll take time, and please hang with us and believe in us, and they have. Tonight, to give a little bit of that back is incredible. Now we have to win two more series to give it all back." -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts

Obama tweets congrats to Cubs after win

"I think we've said this in the past, even when we were having deep runs in October -- there is some luck. You need some things to go right. For us, it just wasn't meant to be. But you can't take anything away from this season as a whole. To accomplish 100 wins the way we did it, with the adversity involved, I think everybody in here should be proud of the year they had." -- Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak

Cardinals tip their caps to victorious Cubs

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Tuesday's outing, Lackey now leads active pitchers with 20 postseason starts. But this one, which lasted just three innings, was the shortest of the bunch. Baez also snapped a string of 12 straight postseason appearances for Lackey in which he did not allow a home run.

INJURY REPORT
Yadier Molina, whose lingering left thumb injury kept him from appearing in Game 4, said after the loss that he is scheduled to meet with a hand doctor on Wednesday to determine if surgery will be needed. More >

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Matheny on not having Yadi in lineup

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: The Cubs will face the winner of the NLDS between the Dodgers and Mets. Maddon has yet to name his NLCS Game 1 starter, but it will come down to either Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester. Game 1 will be Saturday, and all the Cubs know is they will be the road team.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Ricketts, Cubs exhale, look ahead to NLCS

Chairman confident club has what it takes to finish the job
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Extraordinary moment, indeed.

That's what manager Joe Maddon called his latest adventure when he had just signed on to help Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein go in search of baseball's Holy Grail: The first World Series title for the Cubs since 1908.

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CHICAGO -- Extraordinary moment, indeed.

That's what manager Joe Maddon called his latest adventure when he had just signed on to help Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein go in search of baseball's Holy Grail: The first World Series title for the Cubs since 1908.

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"Why would you not want to accept this challenge?'' Maddon said. "In this city, in that ballpark, under these circumstances, with this talent, it's an extraordinary moment. Not just in Cub history but in baseball, today's game, this confluence of all these items coming together at the same time.''

:: NLCS: Cubs vs. Mets/Dodgers -- Tune-in info ::

Give him credit. The man knows what he knows.

As the clock atop the Wrigley Field scoreboard hit 6 p.m. CT on a 58-degree Tuesday, the Cubs were on the verge of an important piece of franchise history -- their first clinching of a postseason series at the ballpark with the ivy-covered walls, which opened in 1914.

Anthony Rizzo had homered into the right-field seats in the sixth inning, giving the Cubs a lead over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. Rookie Kyle Schwarber, the Babe Ruth replica from Middletown, Ohio, via Indiana University, followed that with a monstrous shot over the Budweiser sign that sits atop the video board in right field during the seventh.

Shop for postseason gear

The Cubs had a 6-4 lead, and needed six outs to advance to the NL Championship Series.

John Cusack, the Evanston-born actor, stood next to Ricketts in the first row of seats, behind the on-deck circle and almost close enough to Maddon to call a hit-and-run play. Ricketts crossed and uncrossed his arms but didn't look any more anxious than he had at games in 2012, when the Cubs tallied 101 losses.

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo crushes a homer for 5-4 lead

"He was nervous, but cool,'' Cusack said. "He was cool. He was on edge but with the team. Hard-fought.''

Pedro Strop pitched a perfect eighth inning. Hector Rondon, who had given up a two-run homer to Stephen Piscotty in the ninth on Monday night, would finish the 6-4 victory, but not before Matt Carpenter's single gave Piscotty a chance to tie the score. This time around, as butterflies danced throughout Ricketts' nervous system, Rondon struck him out, finishing the Cardinals in four games.

Ricketts exhaled, then started to exchange handshakes and hugs with everyone around him. He would laugh later when told he'd been described as "nervous but cool.''

"Maybe more nervous than cool,'' Ricketts said, standing on the grass in front of the Cubs' dugout. "But obviously it's very special. To get through this series … the Cardinals are such a great organization, with decades of success. It means a lot more to beat them than it would somebody else. Obviously, the class of the league. It's good to get through this one. Now we have to go see if New York or L.A. is next. We're going to run the table. We're going to go from here.''

Yes, he said "run the table.'' Ricketts, his president of baseball operations, his general manager, manager and players all believe the team that has gone 43-18 since Aug. 6 is capable of winning the World Series.

"Two more to go through, but I really do feel like these guys are ready to keep moving,'' Ricketts said. "We're playing well, playing loose, playing focused at the right time.''

Video: Cubs celebrate NLDS win, advance to NLCS

When the Cardinals beat the Cubs on Opening Night and then won eight of the first 10 games between the teams, Maddon said over and over that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

That's what happened in the NLDS, with the Cubs roaring back from a three-hit shutout in Game 1 to win three in a row. They won Game 2 with squeeze bunts and the spirit of Don Zimmer and then blasted nine home runs in Games 3 and 4, only one by a player older than 26.

"That's a really good team we beat,'' catcher David Ross said of the Cardinals. "I mean, a really good team. One-hundred wins. That doesn't come around every year. They know how to win, and our guys never quit. Great at-bats from young guys -- Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo. … It's a different guy every night. That's a good sign of a good team.''

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Schwarber blasts 419-foot homer

Ross, 38, is in the first year of a two-year contract. He's enjoyed everything he's experienced since coming to Chicago -- both the talent of his teammates and the atmosphere at Wrigley.

"The environment here has been amazing,'' Ross said. "The new scoreboard … I can't even imagine a playoff atmosphere without that scoreboard, seeing these replays over and over. It's the whole package. … It's nice for me being an older guy to think I'm part of something special that's growing. This is only going to get better. These guys are figuring out how to win. It's fun to win.''

Remember when the Cubs' sad history always seemed to be their storyline. Ricketts, Epstein and Maddon (who imported his magic act from the Rays) have changed the narrative.

The first order of business after Rondon got the 27th out Tuesday was celebrating the fact that a franchise that won only one of 14 postseason series since 1908 just stopped the Cardinals short of their fifth consecutive trip to the NLCS.

"Obviously, times weren't easy the last few years,'' said Rizzo, who has developed into an MVP candidate since being acquired in one of Epstein's first trades. "But with all the talent we had and all the talent we were building, everyone knew that the Cubs were coming, and we're here.''

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Rizzo on the Cubs advancing to the NLCS

Both inside and outside the ballpark, Rondon's strikeout of Piscotty started a party that raged long into the night. The final out came before 7 p.m., but the celebratory scene in the infield went on until after 8 p.m., and the lights didn't dim until almost 8:30.

"This is as electric as I've ever seen Wrigley, and I've been coming here for 40 years,'' said Cusack, who grew so excited about the Cubs' young talent he purchased a suite for the 2015 season. "It's as beautiful as anything I've ever seen. It's the most beautiful vibration.''

The three best records in the Major Leagues came from the NL Central this season, and it is the third-place team, Ricketts' Cubs, that are still standing.

"We've been playing great for two months now,'' general manager Jed Hoyer said. "The Cardinals and the Pirates, they're really good teams. I think we've played really well. It's going to be a great battle for the next three, four, five years with all these teams. Today's our day.''

Imagine what it looked like through Ricketts' eyes.

This was his party as much as anyone else on the property. He had purchased the team from the Tribune Company in 2009, hired Epstein in 2011 and provided him all the resources he needed to accumulate the young talent that has been on display in a postseason run that began with a 4-0 victory over the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game.

Ricketts' rebuilding plan was a polarizing point among Cub fans, with old-school types grumbling about the losing seasons that put the team in position to draft Kris Bryant and Schwarber, among others, as well as video boards being added to a ballpark that didn't get lights until 1988. You wouldn't have blamed Ricketts if he had puffed out his chest and proclaimed himself vindicated. But that's not the sort of guy he is.

"I look around this field and I think of all the millions of people who have given so much love to this team for so many years,'' Ricketts said. "I don't care about me. I just want to pay them back.''

Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred is thrilled to have the Cubs back among baseball's strongest franchises. The sport is always best when its flagship franchises thrive.

"I was here earlier in the spring,'' Manfred said before Game 4. "It struck me as I was coming in how massive the project to re-do Wrigley really is. It's a testament to the family, the investment they've made to preserve Wrigley for the fans, because it is a huge investment. That's off the field. On the field, they had a plan. They went about it the way most baseball people think is the right way. It's been successful faster than most people thought it was going to be. They're a great and exciting club. It's really good for the game.''

Like the blast Schwarber sent toward Sheffield Avenue, it's going to take a long time for these fans to come down from having this much fun.

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Manfred in the stands at Wrigley

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs

Fans celebrate special night at Wrigley Field

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Connor, Brynn and Ryan McNicholas came to Wrigley Field on Tuesday night because they "couldn't not be at the game today." The quadruplets came without one of their siblings, but still made their way to Addison and Clark Streets wearing Cubs scarves and pairs of large, thick glasses in honor of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Carey.

And after the Cubs defeated the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series to advance to the NLCS, they immediately took the streets to celebrate with the tens of thousands of fans. Along with 42,411 others, they watched as the Cubs clinched their first postseason series at Wrigley Field in franchise history.

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CHICAGO -- Connor, Brynn and Ryan McNicholas came to Wrigley Field on Tuesday night because they "couldn't not be at the game today." The quadruplets came without one of their siblings, but still made their way to Addison and Clark Streets wearing Cubs scarves and pairs of large, thick glasses in honor of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Carey.

And after the Cubs defeated the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series to advance to the NLCS, they immediately took the streets to celebrate with the tens of thousands of fans. Along with 42,411 others, they watched as the Cubs clinched their first postseason series at Wrigley Field in franchise history.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Results ::

"That's why we're here, to be a part of Chicago history," Ryan said. "My grandparents were all born, lived and died without the Cubs winning the World Series, so we're the first generation of Cubs fans to experience this."

Their stories are like many from fans who packed the streets in celebration. No picture was left unsnapped and no high-five went unreturned in the celebration.

Friends were carried on shoulders and drummers pounded on buckets as fans sang and chanted "Go Cubs Go." Some played the harmonica or guitar. Others played both.

There was Kathy Anderson with her friend Cindy Stolz, who said they didn't want to miss the chance to witness history. Both are Chicago natives, though they never predicted they would find themselves singing with strangers.

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Fowler on Cubs advancing to NLCS

"It's just absolutely amazing," said Anderson, who also made the trip to Pittsburgh for the National League Wild Card Game. "We were worried it would go to St. Louis and we might have to call in. It's really surreal. Even in the end we're like, 'Don't get to too excited yet.'"

Kathy and Cindy stayed until the end, but not everyone was able to. Rich Hoffman and Steve Trilling watched part of the ninth inning from the concourse on the televisions. Rich, a first-year season-ticket holder, was determined to beat out the crowd of thousands, even as Steve pleaded to stay until the last out.

They were lucky just to have tickets to the sold-out game. Todd Bissett and his wife, Rachel, came up from Texas to watch Game 3, but they couldn't leave and possibly miss the experience. So they spent the game at one of the restaurants and bars in the Wrigley neighborhood watching the game before they spilled onto the street.

But they didn't mind missing the game in person if it meant they could see "Cubs Win" flash across the marquee behind the home-plate entrance.

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Maddon on Cubs' win, rookies' composure

"We're here for that history, it doesn't get any cooler than that," Todd said.

Many stayed into the night on the streets celebrating the win, and others such as Connor, Brynn and Ryan also celebrated their birthday on Friday with their two other brothers.

"The nerves in the top of the ninth when we got the out; everyone was just nuts," Ryan said. "It was just euphoria that you could not have ever seen before in Chicago."

"Best birthday gift. Ever," Connor added.

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs

Cardinals tip their caps to victorious Cubs

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals had 100 wins this season, the best record in baseball and oodles of postseason experience to fall back on entering the National League Division Series. While the Cubs had 97 wins in a surprise year of success, the youthful team was not playoff-tested and the world waits to see if the team's cursed history changes.

Perhaps it finally did on Tuesday. The Cubs not only defeated the Cardinals in a 6-4 final in Game 4 at Wrigley Field, they took three straight games after St. Louis claimed Game 1 to eliminate them from the postseason.

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CHICAGO -- The Cardinals had 100 wins this season, the best record in baseball and oodles of postseason experience to fall back on entering the National League Division Series. While the Cubs had 97 wins in a surprise year of success, the youthful team was not playoff-tested and the world waits to see if the team's cursed history changes.

Perhaps it finally did on Tuesday. The Cubs not only defeated the Cardinals in a 6-4 final in Game 4 at Wrigley Field, they took three straight games after St. Louis claimed Game 1 to eliminate them from the postseason.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Results ::

Inside a quiet visitors' clubhouse, vanquished Cardinals players praised the Cubs.

"I don't know if hotter was the word, but they just played good ball," said pitcher Adam Wainwright, who made three relief appearances in the NLDS. "They got timely hits and made pitches when they needed to. That's the name of the game in the postseason. Their hitters just did a tremendous job of capitalizing on our mistakes. They played good defense and pitched well. Usually teams that do that are going to be tough to beat."

It marked the first time that the Cubs ever rallied to win a series after losing Game 1, after it had lost each of its previous 11 postseason series when it lost the opening game. Before 2015, the Cardinals had won each of their previous eight NLDS after they claimed Game 1.

"We played a good first game and we had our moments for sure. We definitely could have played better," Wainwright said. "They didn't make it easy on us. They didn't give us too many pitches to hit and they didn't miss many mistakes. It was a good series for them."

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Maddon on Cardinals' season

The Cubs hit 10 homers in the series, while the Cardinals slugged eight. The Cubs scored six or more runs in three-straight postseason games for the first time in franchise history.

Cubs pitchers struck out 48 batters in the series, while St. Louis fanned 38.

"We fell short of our ultimate goal. It [stinks]," Cardinals first baseman Mark Reynolds said. "But at the end of the day, we got beat and the Cubs played great ball. They got the big hits when they needed them and hit some big homers. They took advantage of the conditions better than we did. You have to tip your hat to them. They played well."

Cubs rookies like Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell joined Anthony Rizzo in giving Cardinals pitchers all they could handle in the series.

"The difference in this series was they swung the bats better than we did," third baseman Matt Carpenter said. "We just couldn't keep them from scoring."

The Cardinals took the regular-season series, 11-8, but dropped four of six games when the teams played in September. Could manager Mike Matheny sense that the balance of power might be shifting?

Video: STL@CHC Gm4: Matheny on team's fighting spirit

"I think they've been playing with a lot of confidence, and obviously they finished the season that way," Matheny said "There are a lot of things going in a good direction for that team. You've got a lot of talent, no question. You had some pitching that stepped up tremendously, and everybody kind of finding their role and some of the younger guys kind of taking those big roles. You could see that this team was going in the right direction and feeling good about themselves heading into the playoffs."

Cardinals rookie Stephen Piscotty, who hit .375 (6-for-16) in the series with three two-run homers, felt the Cubs could be the team of destiny. While St. Louis has 11 World Series titles, with the last coming in 2011, the Cubs are searching for their first since 1908.

"They were swinging out of their minds. I would be shocked if they're not in the World Series or winning it," Piscotty said. "They were really swinging well. You've got to tip your hat. As for us, we're fine. We put up some good numbers. We put up four on [Jake] Arrieta. There's a lot of positives you can take away from it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

St. Louis Cardinals, Stephen Piscotty, Adam Wainwright

Obama tweets congrats to Cubs after win

President rooting for North Siders in NLCS despite being a White Sox fan
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs clinched a postseason series at Wrigley Field for the first time in the history of the ballpark, defeated the team with the best record in the Majors this season and advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003 with their 6-4 victory in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Tuesday.

But their most impressive accomplishment may be gaining the support of one White Sox fan in particular.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs clinched a postseason series at Wrigley Field for the first time in the history of the ballpark, defeated the team with the best record in the Majors this season and advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003 with their 6-4 victory in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Tuesday.

But their most impressive accomplishment may be gaining the support of one White Sox fan in particular.

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After the Cubs' win against the Cardinals, President Barack Obama was quick to tweet congratulations on Tuesday night.

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"Congrats @Cubs - even @whitesox fans are rooting for you!" the tweet read. And for good measure, Obama followed the Cubs on Twitter. He followed every other Chicago sports team but the Cubs upon creating his Twitter account in May.

Tweet from @POTUS: Congrats @Cubs - even @whitesox fans are rooting for you!

"Oh yeah, that means something, for sure," said Javier Baez, who hit a three-run homer in Game 4. "We know what we have to do, and we're going to keep playing hard."

The White Sox "First Fan," Obama has thrown out a first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field and has stayed true to his team otherwise. He has not shown support for the Cubs until Tuesday.

Video: Cubs celebrate NLDS win, advance to NLCS

There were a few Cubs players who appreciated the support and his patience to wait for the series to finish. On Monday, the office of Texas governor Greg Abbott tweeted his congratulations to the Houston Astros prematurely. Although Abbott later took to his personal Twitter to clarify that he would make "No predictions. Just support."

"As long as he doesn't tweet that we won the series when there's still two innings to play," said reliever Trevor Cahill. "But no, it's fun. I don't entirely know how the North Side, South Side rivalry works here, but it's been a long time.

"I'm not a social-media guy at all, but I do have the MLB app."

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs

Rookies have Cubs on precipice of NLCS

Schwarber, Bryant, Soler account for 3 of record 6 HRs in Game 3 win
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- About four hours before first pitch Monday, rookie Kyle Schwarber was sitting by himself in the seats at Wrigley Field. He hadn't changed his pregame routine, arriving early as usual, even though it was Game 3 of the National League Division Series. For Schwarber, and the other Cubs rookies, Monday was just another day at the ballpark.

"It's another baseball game," Schwarber said. "The only thing I did different today was I sat in the stands. I sat down, thinking. I was thinking about what the fans were going to be like, thinking if I'd be able to hear myself today."

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CHICAGO -- About four hours before first pitch Monday, rookie Kyle Schwarber was sitting by himself in the seats at Wrigley Field. He hadn't changed his pregame routine, arriving early as usual, even though it was Game 3 of the National League Division Series. For Schwarber, and the other Cubs rookies, Monday was just another day at the ballpark.

"It's another baseball game," Schwarber said. "The only thing I did different today was I sat in the stands. I sat down, thinking. I was thinking about what the fans were going to be like, thinking if I'd be able to hear myself today."

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:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Tune-in info ::

Could he?

"At some points, I could," he said. "It was a lot of fun."

Schwarber was one of three Cubs rookies to homer in an 8-6 victory over the Cardinals in front of 42,411 very loud fans at Wrigley Field. With the win, Chicago has a 2-1 lead in the best of five NLDS with Game 4 on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. CT on TBS, as the Cubs try to clinch a postseason series at Wrigley Field for the first time in franchise history.

What's been impressive is the way the Cubs' kids have handled the so-called pressure of the playoffs. There is none as far as they're concerned.

"If we had not been doing well, then this lack of experience would be working against us," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's pretty much what's happening right now. I think, obviously, to this point our young guys, they've reacted to the whole season pretty well."

The Cubs' Nos. 1-6 batters all homered -- Schwarber, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler -- and they are the first team in Major League history to have five different players age 26 or younger hit a home run in a postseason game. Only two teams -- the 2013 Astros and 1996 Brewers -- have ever done that in the regular season.

Video: STL@CHC Gm3: Cubs set postseason mark with six homers

The Cubs started four rookies -- the first time a team has had four in the lineup for a postseason game since the 2007 D-backs did in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cubs. Chicago catcher Miguel Montero was one of the D-Backs rookies, joining Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton and Chris Young.

"In '07, nobody thought we were going to win the division, and then we swept the Cubs and set the bar really high," Montero said. "It's nice to be the underdog sometimes. It takes a little bit of pressure off your shoulders. I never looked at it that way -- I want that pressure. I want everybody to know we are good and we can compete against anybody."

By the way, Montero uses "We Are Good" in his Twitter posts. The Cubs players wear T-shirts that say that.

For the game, the Cubs' four rookies were a combined 6-for-12 with three home runs, a triple, and five RBIs. Soler has yet to make an out in his brief postseason experience. The rookie is the first player in MLB history to reach base safely in his first nine postseason plate appearances. The Cubs' record was seven, set by Hack Wilson in 1929.

Video: STL@CHC Gm3: Soler on his confidence at the plate

What's the secret to Soler's success? Schwarber yells at him.

"I told him to get mad at the baseball," Schwarber said of his pregame message. "I tell him to get mad at the baseball every day."

Schwarber delivers his message in English, so Soler may not know exactly what he's saying, but the Cuban outfielder has gotten the message.

Video: Soler reaches base in nine straight plate appearances

"He might not understand, but I tell him to get mad at the baseball every day," Schwarber said. "I told him again today and he hit a screamer."

Speaking of screaming, Monday was the first time Schwarber said he ever saw Bryant yell. The quiet third baseman, who prefers to let his bat do the talking, was pretty pumped after his homer. Bryant was riding an 0-for-11 streak, which ended with a first-inning single. He became primal after his homer.

"His emotions took over right there," Schwarber said of Bryant. "That's good. Besides his walk-off homers and stuff, that was a key home run that we needed right there. He came up big and I got right in his face and screamed at him and he screamed back. It's all about having fun and your emotions come out in a game. It's awesome."

Video: STL@CHC Gm3: Bryant on team's big offensive showing

The Cubs weren't worried about Bryant.

"When Kris stands in the box, even if he can't swing the bat, him just standing in the box, his presence alone means more to this team than anyone can imagine," Rizzo said. "It's just a matter of time before he starts hitting and does what he does."

Video: STL@CHC Gm3: Bryant singles for first postseason hit

The young Cubs are doing OK.

"Nothing with the younger guys amazes me," Fowler said. "When they came up, they made an immediate impact and that's all you can ask for."

Does Fowler think any of them have a future?

"I think all of them have a future," Fowler said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler

Wacha wavers in Cardinals' Game 3 loss

CHICAGO -- Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha labored throughout his start in Monday's Game 3 vs. the Cubs in the National League Division Series. By the fifth inning, it was clear that Wacha's outing was nearing its end. Manager Mike Matheny had lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist warming in the bullpen.

Matheny went to Siegrist one pitch too late, perhaps. Wacha gave up a one-out single to Jorge Soler, and it was followed by a two-run homer from Kris Bryant for the go-ahead runs in the Cubs' 8-6 victory.

CHICAGO -- Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha labored throughout his start in Monday's Game 3 vs. the Cubs in the National League Division Series. By the fifth inning, it was clear that Wacha's outing was nearing its end. Manager Mike Matheny had lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist warming in the bullpen.

Matheny went to Siegrist one pitch too late, perhaps. Wacha gave up a one-out single to Jorge Soler, and it was followed by a two-run homer from Kris Bryant for the go-ahead runs in the Cubs' 8-6 victory.

Shop for Cardinals postseason gear

Chicago now leads the Series, 2-1. Game 4 will play out on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. ET (TBS).

:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Tune-in info ::

Matheny had Siegrist lined up to face left-handed hitting Anthony Rizzo, but could Siegrist have fared better than Wacha one batter earlier vs. Bryant? Although a southpaw, Siegrist has been better vs. right-handers this season. Righties batted .164 against him compared to .278 for lefty hitters. He had the lowest opponent batting average among all NL left-handed pitchers.

Furthermore, Bryant actually hit right-handers (.284/.376/.499) better than left-handers (.246/.345/.452) this season.

Wacha started out in a 3-0 count. In an at-bat that featured all fastballs, it was a full-count 94-mph pitch up and over the heart of the plate that was tattooed into the left-field bleachers.

"That's not how you want to start off an AB with that kind of guy," Wacha said. "I tried to battle him back in there and left the 3-2 fastball up in the zone. He just lifted it and got it out of there."

Wacha was pulled immediately after the Bryant homer, but Siegrist didn't fare much better. His 2-2 fastball to first batter Rizzo was hammered to right field for another homer.

Video: STL@CHC Gm3: Matheny discusses Wacha's start

"They jumped on Michael for a couple, and I thought he got better as he went, but he just had a little trouble early on and really did manage the damage overall," Matheny said. "I thought his fastball as he was finishing up was probably at the best it's been all night. He gets behind in the count to Bryant and gets a lot of the plate, and these guys will make you pay in this park for sure when that wind is doing what it's doing."

In 4 1/3 innings and 90 pitches, Wacha allowed four earned runs and six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He also gave up three home runs after having allowed four homers over his previous six postseason games.

Only six of Wacha's first 16 pitches went for strikes during the first inning -- the first sign that it might not be his night. He issued a one-out walk and a single, but he got out of the jam when Rizzo lined into a double play.

"My fastball command really wasn't there early on," Wacha said. "I started to find it and was feeling pretty good. I got into a little groove there for a little bit. I left too many pitches up in the zone, and they made me pay for it."

The Cardinals stayed in the game against ace Jake Arrieta, who saw his 34 innings scoreless streak snapped with four earned runs allowed. A two-run top of the fourth gave Wacha a 2-1 lead.

"Our guys put together some great at-bats against him and really did a good job against him," Wacha said. "They got him out of the game early. I just didn't do my job out there and didn't keep us in the game."

St. Louis Cardinals, Michael Wacha

Just a 2nd: Cubs' big inning sinks Cards, ties DS

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- A few tweaks in the lineup, two badly timed St. Louis errors, some well-executed bunts and a monster home run by Jorge Soler in Game 2 on Saturday at Busch Stadium helped propel the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals and even the National League Division Series at 1-1.

Game 3 of the best-of-five series will be played Monday (6 p.m. ET on TBS) at Wrigley Field, and it will be the first postseason game there since Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS.

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ST. LOUIS -- A few tweaks in the lineup, two badly timed St. Louis errors, some well-executed bunts and a monster home run by Jorge Soler in Game 2 on Saturday at Busch Stadium helped propel the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals and even the National League Division Series at 1-1.

Game 3 of the best-of-five series will be played Monday (6 p.m. ET on TBS) at Wrigley Field, and it will be the first postseason game there since Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS.

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In the Wild Card era, when the Division Series is tied at 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has won 25 of 32 series. In the current 2-2-1 Division Series format, the road team that splits the first two games away from home has won the series 17 of 29 times.

• Shop for postseason gear: Cubs | Cardinals

"You can't win a championship if you don't win on the road," said Carlos Villanueva, who threw two scoreless innings in relief for the Cardinals. "Obviously we wanted to go up there up 2-0, but in the same way they came here and won a game today, we have to go there and win a game. We'd rather have won two. At least you want to put yourself in the position that if you do have to come back here, we're playing for the [chance to advance] here at home."

Rogers: Young Cubs create good vibrations

Jake Arrieta, the 22-game winner who threw a shutout in the NL Wild Card Game against the Pirates on Wednesday, will square off against St. Louis' Michael Wacha in Game 3. Wrigleyville should be lively.

"We knew we had to get a win here," Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks said. "We wanted to go back to Wrigley with the chance to win both of those and put it away. With Jake on the mound in Game 3, it's huge to keep this momentum going. Hopefully, we can get them both."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Hendricks fans seven over 4 2/3 innings

On Saturday, the Cubs rallied in a somewhat unorthodox manner, scoring the first three runs in the fifth on two safety squeezes and an infield single. The Cubs did some bunting drills during the last regular-season series in Milwaukee, and they paid off. St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia made one of two errors in the second, and he was lifted after two innings due to a stomach virus. Soler, inserted in place of left-handed-hitting rookie Kyle Schwarber against the southpaw Garcia, capped the inning with a two-run home run to straightaway center.

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Soler crushes a two-run shot in the 2nd

"We've done a real nice job all season of limiting the extra bases, the extra outs," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It is hard to watch a club that's played so well defensively, see a couple things happen that are kind of uncharacteristic for us."

Hendricks served up a leadoff homer to Matt Carpenter in the first, then retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced before Kolten Wong and pinch-hitter Randal Grichuk smacked back-to-back homers with two outs in the fifth. Hendricks gave up three homers once this season, on Sept. 17 against the Pirates.

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Statcast™ tracks homers by Wong, Grichuk

On Sunday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said they'll have breakfast at Wrigley, enjoy optional batting practice, watch some football and prep for Monday's game. Maddon knows some Cubs fans are nervous since the team hasn't had much success in the postseason.

"Enjoy every moment of this," Maddon said. "That's the thing I think that needs to be understood. We're in a unique position right now. We have worked very hard to get here, and if you're a fan and don't enjoy this, if you're a player and don't enjoy that, then you're really not doing this properly. So from my perspective, fans, continue to worry, please. From our perspective, we have to just go and play."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Rondon shuts the door on Game 2 win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Penmanship: Maddon has emphasized that the bullpens matter in the postseason, and it was evident Saturday. Trevor Cahill, who spent most of this season in the Minor Leagues, delivered in the eighth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Travis Wood, who was in the Cubs' rotation at the start of the year, gave up one hit over 2 1/3 scoreless innings after Hendricks exited. More >

"Right now, because we didn't throw in the [Wild Card] Game against the Pirates and [in Game 1 on Friday], we put in our minds to try to shut out all the games," said Cubs closer Hector Rondon, who picked up the save. "Any situation we come in, we try to be simple and make an out."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Cahill strikes out Piscotty to end 8th

Power surge: After ranking 25th in the Majors with 137 regular-season home runs, the Cardinals continued to ride the long ball in this series with three more solo homers on Saturday. Carpenter, with his sixth postseason home run, joined Lou Brock (1968 World Series) and Fernando Vina (2000 NLDS) as the only Cardinals hitters to lead off a postseason game with a homer. The back-to-back blasts hit by Wong and Grichuk were the first back-to-back homers for the Cardinals in the postseason since Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen in the 2004 NL Championship Series. More >

"He was kind of cruising for the most part," Wong said of Hendricks, who exited after the back-to-back blasts. "Getting a run there, I think, kind of shook him a little bit. Then Grichuk coming up behind me and doing what he did was good for us. We just couldn't capitalize on top of it."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Carpenter leads off with a home run

Second inning: The Cubs took advantage of two errors in the second while playing a little small ball. Starlin Castro singled to lead off and was forced out at second on Austin Jackson's grounder, but Jackson advanced to second on the play due to second baseman Wong's throwing error. Miguel Montero walked, with Jackson stealing third during the at-bat. Hendricks then put down a sacrifice bunt, with Garcia fielding the ball and opting to throw to first. But his throw sailed past Brandon Moss for an error. Jackson scored on the play, with Montero going to third and Hendricks advancing to second. Montero then tallied on Russell's sacrifice bunt, and Dexter Fowler followed with an infield RBI single for a 3-1 lead. No small ball for Soler, who launched a 2-2 pitch from Garcia out to center for a 5-1 lead. More >

When was the last time Maddon called for a squeeze play on back-to-back plays? He said maybe sometime with the Rays.

"Everything has to be set up properly for that," Maddon said. "It just was. I mean that happens every so often, I guess a harvest moon, possibly, I don't know, but it's one of those things that you look for, you work towards, but it doesn't always present itself. Factors have to be present."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Jackson comes home on a throwing error

Waino is bueno: Following an unexpected late-season return from Achilles surgery in April, Adam Wainwright made his first postseason relief appearance since the 2006 World Series. Summoned with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, Wainwright got an assist from his defense on two well-struck balls to strand both runners. He then struck out the side in the eighth to close an 18-pitch outing. Wainwright, who was making his 10th postseason appearance out of the bullpen, is one of just five pitchers in Major League history to pitch 11 or more innings in relief and not allow a run. More >

"My stuff is good," Wainwright said. "I should probably have located some things a little bit better. But at this point in the game, zeros are zeros, and that's really all that matters. I'll try to get even sharper next time."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Waino fans three over 1 2/3 scoreless

QUOTABLE
"When it first happened, it was a mental mistake from my side. Initially, since it was a hard bunt, I thought to go for the double play. But that should never happen. In that situation right there, you should go home and get that out." -- Garcia, on misplaying a bunt that led to his second-inning unraveling

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Wong, with a solo homer on his 25th birthday, has had his last nine postseason hits go for extra bases. That ties a Major League record, previously reached by Miguel Cabrera and Jayson Werth. Wong had seven extra-base hits in 29 at-bats during the 2014 postseason. He also doubled in Game 1 on Friday.

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Wong goes yard in the 5th inning

The Cubs' five runs in the second were the most they've scored in one inning of a postseason game since tallying six in the first inning of Game 2 of the 1989 NLCS against the Giants.

MEDICAL REPORT
The Cardinals announced that Garcia was removed from the game due to a stomach virus, an illness that had not been disclosed publicly before Game 2. It marked the second straight postseason start for Garcia that lasted just two innings due to an ailment. In a 2012 NLDS start against the Nationals, Garcia was pulled due to shoulder discomfort. Garcia informed the Cardinals about one hour before first pitch that he had been feeling ill for the last three days. More >

"Very, very tough call," Garcia said of notifying the team of his illness. "I've been dreaming and I've been so excited about having an opportunity to do what I did today. But sometimes stuff happens. What are you going to do? I said how I felt, but at the same time, I was going to take the mound and compete."

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Garcia exits after two laborious frames

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals used up their first challenge in the seventh inning trying to appeal for an inning-ending double play. After catching Anthony Rizzo's line drive, Carpenter raced to third base as Fowler slid back into the bag. Fowler was ruled safe, a call that was confirmed after review. All teams are given two challenges for postseason games.

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Carpenter's heads-up play confirmed

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: The series shifts to Wrigley Field for Game 3, and Arrieta will get his second postseason start on Monday at 4:30 p.m. or 6 ET on TBS. Arrieta is coming off a shutout against the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game. He was 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts this season against the Cardinals.

Cardinals: Wacha, whose last postseason pitch was crushed by Travis Ishikawa to advance the Giants to the World Series and send St. Louis home, will start Game 3 for the Cardinals. He will be pitching on 11 days' rest after ending the season with a 7.88 September ERA. He finished more than five innings in just one of those five starts.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Cards' power surge not enough to prevent series split

Carpenter, Wong, Grichuk go deep in Saturday's loss to Cubs
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals didn't have the best record in baseball this season because they were mashers at the plate. In fact, they ranked 25th in the Majors with 137 homers.

Suddenly, there's been a postseason power surge. Through two games of the National League Division Series against the Cubs, St. Louis has five homers -- including three on Saturday during a 6-3 loss that left the series split at 1-1.

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ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals didn't have the best record in baseball this season because they were mashers at the plate. In fact, they ranked 25th in the Majors with 137 homers.

Suddenly, there's been a postseason power surge. Through two games of the National League Division Series against the Cubs, St. Louis has five homers -- including three on Saturday during a 6-3 loss that left the series split at 1-1.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Tune-in info ::

Six of the Cardinals' seven runs in the series have come on home runs.

"Baseball is a funny game. Anything is possible, that's for sure," said Randal Grichuk, who hit a pinch-hit homer in the fifth inning.

Following eighth-inning homers in Game 1 by Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty in Friday's 4-0 win, the Cardinals picked up where they left off in Game 2. In the bottom of the first against Kyle Hendricks, leadoff batter Matt Carpenter went deep for a home run and quick Cardinals lead.

Carpenter hit a 1-2 pitch from Hendricks to straightaway center field, where it landed on the grassy hill beyond the fence. According to Statcast™, it had an exit velocity of 103 mph and was projected to travel 412 feet.

"He set the tone pretty early with that leadoff home run," Grichuk said. "Unfortunately, they put up a five-spot there in the second and kind of shut us down for a little while."

The Cubs got to Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia in a big way in the second inning as the lefty unraveled. Of the five unearned runs, two scored on squeeze bunts, plus an RBI single by Dexter Fowler and a two-run homer by Jorge Soler that made it a 5-1 deficit.

It was a 6-1 game and Hendricks was cruising as he retired 14 of 15 with six strikeouts. That included back-to-back strikeouts to begin the fifth inning. The Cardinals responded with back-to-back homers by Kolten Wong and Grichuk that narrowed the deficit to three runs and gave St. Louis life. It also knocked Hendricks out the game.

Video: CHC@STL Gm2: Carpenter leads off with a home run

"Getting a run there, I think, kind of shook him a little bit," said Wong, who cleared the fence on the first pitch. "Then Grichuk coming up behind me and doing what he did was good for us. We just couldn't capitalize on top of it."

Wong's drive to right field left the bat at 106 mph and traveled 412 feet, according to Statcast™. Grichuk, who jumped all over a 1-1 Hendricks pitch for a booming homer to left field had an exit velocity of 109 mph and traveled 444 feet.

Plenty of notable facts came from Saturday's Cardinals homers:

• Carpenter's homer was the third leadoff home run in the postseason in franchise history and the first since Fernando Vina did it in Game 3 of the 2000 NL Division Series at Atlanta. Lou Brock was the first to do it for the franchise, in Game 4 of the 1968 World Series against the Tigers.

• Wong has nine consecutive hits that have gone for extra bases in the postseason -- tying a Major League record held by Miguel Cabrera and Jayson Werth.

"I don't know what's going on," Wong said. "I'll tell you what -- I love playing in the playoffs, that's for sure."

• The first back-to-back homers were the first in the postseason for the Cardinals since Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen did it against the Astros in Game 2 of the 2004 NL Championship Series.

• The last time St. Louis hit three or homers in a postseason game was in the 2014 NLCS Game 2 against the Giants, when Carpenter, Matt Adams, the late Oscar Taveras and Wong all went deep.

• Grichuk, still considered a rookie, now has the distinction of hitting rookie postseason homers in each of the past two years.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk, Kolten Wong