CHICAGO – The young sluggers of the Chicago Cubs are making themselves at home in the playoffs.
On a rare off night for Jake Arrieta, the Windy City kids bashed their way to the brink of the NL Championship Series — and a spot in the record book.
Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber connected as the Cubs set a postseason mark with six home runs and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-6 on Monday for a 2-1 lead in the NL Division Series.
Arrieta struck out nine before departing in the sixth inning of the first playoff game at Wrigley Field in seven years.
"To see the ball fly out of the yard as many times as it did was incredible," Arrieta said.
Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler also went deep for Chicago, which held a share of the previous postseason record with five homers in Game 1 of the 1984 NLCS against San Diego.
"Pretty impressive," manager Joe Maddon said. "You know, I know the wind was blowing out — we'll concede that — but most of them were properly struck. We are definitely capable of that."
A third straight win for the Cubs on Tuesday afternoon, and the once woebegone franchise will advance to the NLCS for the first time in 12 years. The Cardinals, who led the majors with 100 wins this season, have won at least one playoff series in each of the last four years.
Jason Hammel starts at home in Game 4. John Lackey, who won the opener, pitches for the Cardinals.
"I want to win championships. I want to be on good teams," Lackey said. "Got a chance here, still, and try to keep it moving."
Jason Heyward and Stephen Piscotty homered for St. Louis, which got to Arrieta for four runs in his worst start in four months.
St. Louis trailed 8-4 before Piscotty hit a two-run shot with two out in the ninth, a scary moment for a towel-waving crowd of 42,411 used to playoff heartache. But Hector Rondon retired Matt Holliday on a harmless bouncer to second.
"We were grinding against Arrieta all night, and we did have opportunities," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "They just kept adding on."
Schwarber, Castro and Bryant homered against Michael Wacha in his first playoff appearance since he threw the final pitch of the 2014 postseason for the Cardinals, a game-ending, three-run shot for Travis Ishikawa in the NLCS against the Giants.
Bryant's two-run drive made it 4-2 with one out in the fifth and chased Wacha in favor of Kevin Siegrist. But Rizzo followed another long ball, a drive to right for his first hit of the playoffs.