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Cardinals' bumbling second inning evens NLDS with Cubs

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Cora: 'Garcia did a bad job' (1:13)

ESPN MLB analyst Alex Cora explains why a mistake-riddled second inning doomed the Cardinals in Game 2 of their National League Division Series against the Cubs. (1:13)

ST. LOUIS -- So much for home-field advantage. In Game 2 of the National League Division Series, the visiting Chicago Cubs used a five-run second inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 and even the series at one game apiece. Starter Jaime Garcia, pitching against the Cubs for the first time since April 2012, was reportedly dealing with a stomach virus and was lifted after just two innings.

It’s the fifth straight year the Cards have lost a home game during the NLDS and the seventh consecutive LDS in which St. Louis has been beaten at Busch Stadium.

Thumbs up: Matt Carpenter led off the bottom off the first by depositing a 1-2 sinker from Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks on the other side of the center-field fence. The 412-foot blast was Carpenter’s fifth home run in his past 11 postseason games. In his first 26 playoff appearances, he had just one homer. In the fifth, Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk went back-to-back off Hendricks. Grichuk’s bomb was the Cards’ second pinch-hit homer in as many days. Making his first postseason relief appearance since 2006, Adam Wainwright was perfect in an inning and two-thirds, and he struck out three.

Thumbs down: In a decisive top of the second that swung the game and maybe the series, Wong started the comedy of errors by flubbing the relay throw on a potential 6-4-3 double play that would’ve erased a leadoff single by Starlin Castro. Instead, Austin Jackson advanced all the way to second when Wong’s throw rolled out of play, then stole third. After a walk to Miguel Montero, Hendricks laid down a safety squeeze. Garcia scooped it up, but couldn’t decide whether to throw to home or first. Instead, he threw in the general vicinity of right field, which allowed the Cubs to tie it 1-1. By the time the frame was over, the Cubs had scored four more on another safety squeeze by Addison Russell, an infield hit by Dexter Fowler and a two-run bomb by Jorge Soler. All five runs were unearned.

What’s next: The series migrates 300 miles northeast for Monday’s Game 3 at Wrigley Field. Michael Wacha (17-7, 3.38) takes the hill for St. Louis. He’ll square off against Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77).