ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - After getting shut out by the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series opener, the Chicago Cubs were determined to put runs on the board in Saturday’s Game Two by any means necessary.
Mission accomplished, as the Cubs scratched out an unusual five-run rally in the second inning that carried them to a 6-3 victory over the top-seeded Cardinals that evened the best-of-five 1-1.
Two errors led to the five unearned runs, with Cubs manager Joe Maddon putting pressure on the Cards with back-to-back squeeze bunts that scored runners from third each time.
“Joe has a good understanding about what’s going on in the game and what needs to be done,” said Addison Russell, who laid down the second squeeze bunt after pitcher Kyle Hendricks succeeded with the first, which resulted in a wild throw.
“He relays the signs to Jonesy (third base coach Gary Jones). We try to execute it, try to get that bunt down or move that guy over. That’s just A, B, C baseball.”
Rookie shortstop Russell, who socked 13 home runs this season, said he was not surprised to get the bunt sign.
“No, it’s a crucial part in the game, I think,” he said. “We’re trying to push runs across the board. We got a guy on third base ... we’re down one and it’s less than two outs. That right there changed the ballgame.”
Closer Hector Rondon, who recorded the last three outs for the save, said a different offensive approach was needed.
“We know that first game we did not hit that well and we had to figure out which way to make some runs,” Rondon said.
“So that worked today. I don’t know if that will work for tomorrow, but it worked for today and we’ll take it.”
The quirky Maddon said he was looking forward to Monday’s clash back home at Wrigley Field with Cubs ace Jake Arrieta taking the mound and had a nice day planned for Sunday.
“Getting Jake pitching the next game is kind of a good thought for us. He’s been spectacular,” the manager said.
“We’re going to have some breakfast at Wrigley, enjoy our optional batting practice, watch some NFL football on the big screen and then get ready for the next game.”
Editing by Larry Fine and Greg Stutchbury