CHICAGO: The Chicago Cubs belted a Major League Baseball playoff record six home runs in an 8-6 triumph over St. Louis on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) that put the Cardinals on the brink of elimination.
The Cubs, trying to end a 107-year World Series title drought, had homers from Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler.
They took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series and can advance with a win at home on Tuesday.
“It’s difficult to finish off good teams,” cautioned Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “We’ve been behind a lot of times, we’ve battled back.
“We totally expect that out of the Cardinals . . . You don’t pack up the bats until the last out ever.”
The winners of the series will face either the New York Mets or Los Angeles Dodgers for a World Series berth.
The Mets moved within one win of reaching the League Championship Series with a 13-7 victory over the Dodgers in New York.
Right fielder Curtis Granderson tied a Mets post-season record with five runs-batted-in as New York rallied from an early deficit.
“It’s fun,” Granderson said of the Mets’ 13 runs—a team playoff record—off 13 hits.
“You never know when (the bats) are going to come to life, especially when you’ve got a great pitching staff like you do in the Dodgers rotation.”
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes both homered and finished with three hits and three RBIs apiece.
Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey shook off his second-inning struggles to earn the win in his first playoff start.
With their season on the line on Tuesday, the Dodgers will send three-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw to the mound on three days’ rest.
“We definitely can’t jump ahead of ourselves,” Granderson said of the chance to wrap up the series. “We’ve got to continue to fight.”
Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley was roundly booed by Mets fans during team introductions.
Utley didn’t enter the game, but was in uniform and available as he appeals his two-game ban for a hard slide that broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s right leg in game two.
On a windy night at the Cubs’ iconic Wrigley Field, Bryant hit a two-run homer and Rizzo delivered a solo shot in a three-run fifth inning that made it 5-2 for the hosts.
“I saw the ball really good,” said Bryant, who broke out of an 0-for-11 slump at the plate. “It’s a monkey off my back and we move on from there.”
St. Louis cut that deficit to one run in the sixth with Jason Heyward’s two-run home run off Cubs ace Jake Arrieta.
Arrieta, who was 22-6 with a 1.77 earned run average in the regular season, allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
“(Jake) wasn’t as sharp as he normally is,” Maddon said.
“I was plotting, planning mentally when is this going to come to an end tonight . . . Of course, he still had good stuff, he just wasn’t as sharp as he normally is.”
Cardinals relief pitcher Michael Wacha took the loss, giving up four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Soler pulled two runs back for Chicago in the bottom of the sixth with a first-pitch homer that also scored Chris Coghlan.
Fowler smacked the home team’s record-setting sixth homer of the game in the bottom of the eighth giving Chicago an 8-4 lead.
Stephen Piscotty hit a two-out, two-run homer for the Cardinals in the top of the ninth to narrow the final margin.