Pitcher Jaime Garcia was sick Saturday, but he took the ball anyway.
It was the St. Louis Cardinals who felt ill later, as they saw Garcia commit one of two second-inning throwing errors that led to five unearned runs in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium.
The Cubs’ victory enabled them to tie the best-of-five series at 1-1 before 47,859.
“It’s something I’ve been dealing with the last couple of days,” Garcia said of what was described as a stomach virus. “I thought it was almost nothing. But at the same time, no excuse. I notified the team right before the game just what was going on. But I was going to pitch. It was my game. I’m prepared. I worked so hard all year for this situation.
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“Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way.”
Garcia departed after two innings. He threw 45 pitches, 29 for strikes, walked one and struck out two.
“I found out about an hour before the game,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Garcia’s illness. “He said he was doing OK. He just had a couple of rough nights (of) sleep, so we were going to keep a close eye on him. He wanted to pitch, and he felt good going out there. Really, it was fielding that did (the damage).”
Chicago fell behind 1-0 on Matt Carpenter’s first-inning home run to center against Kyle Hendricks. Then came the deciding second.
With Chicago runners on first and third with one out after Wong’s error and a walk to Miguel Montero, Hendricks pushed a bunt toward Garcia, who made the pickup. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was calling for the ball, but Garcia instead threw wildly past first as Austin Jackson scored to make it 1-1.
“I called for it,” said Molina, who wasn’t sure whether Garcia heard him yell. “Maybe he couldn’t hear me, but I was calling for it.”
Addison Russell then drove in a run with a squeeze that scored Montero, and Dexter Fowler drove in Hendricks with an infield single. Jorge Soler followed with a two-run homer to right-center and the Cubs suddenly led 5-1.
Garcia was lifted for Lance Lynn to start the third, and Lynn allowed a run that made it 6-1.
Hendricks permitted back-to-back two-out home runs to Wong and pinch-hitter Randal Grichuk in the fifth and was replaced by Travis Wood, who went 2 1/3 innings for the victory. Wong’s last nine hits in the postseason have gone for extra bases.
It was the first time the Cardinals have hit back-to-back homers in the postseason since 2004 when Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen connected against Houston’s Dan Miceli in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the NL Championship Series at Busch Stadium II.
Hector Rondon worked a scoreless ninth for the save. The Cardinals’ Nos’ 3 through 6 hitters, Matt Holliday, Jason Heyward, Jhonny Peralta and the combination of Brandon Moss and Mark Reynolds, were 1-for-14 with an infield single.
Game 3 will be Monday at Wrigley Field in Chicago at a time to be determined. Michael Wacha (17-7, 3.38 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA).
“We all knew it was going to be a tough series,” Molina said. “They’ve got a pretty good team over there. We respect that. We’ll take it 1-1 right now. We have to go over there ready to go and try to win it. (Arrieta) is tough, but we’ve faced a good pitcher before. We’ve beaten good pitchers before.”