ST. LOUIS — Not usually the scene of many home runs, Busch Stadium came under attack from a Chicago air raid Friday night.
The Cubs pumped four homers in the game, two of which came from phenom Jorge Soler.
The first long ball led off the second inning, when Luis Valbuena cut a two-run Cardinal lead in half with a solo shot.
“It cut middle in and we were trying to go down and away there,” Miller said of the cutter Valbuena sent over the wall. “It was a mistake.”
It was one of only a handful Miller made all night, going seven innings on 93 pitches for a quality start. He would surrender two runs total, the second coming curtesy of the big-swinging Soler.
In the seventh, the two clubs remained staggered at 2-1 when the Cuban prospect stepped in to lead things off.
In his third game in the bigs, the big righty recorded his second homer. It was a high fly ball to center field that carried all the way into the foliage behind the wall.
“To leave to center like that, that ball I thought was a pop up,” Mike Matheny said. “That tells you something about what he brings to the table.”
It tied the game, removing Miller’s chance for a win and shifting energy to Chicago with 15 outs to go.
“The toughest thing about it was giving up the homer in the seventh with a 2-1 lead. That really doesn’t need to happen,” Miller said. “I felt like that gave them a little momentum going into the eighth.”
The Cubs took the momentum and poured on four more in the top of the next inning, rolling over the usually stingy Pat Neshek.
“It happened quick. The first couple guys got on in a couple pitches and then it was already second and third,” the All Star set up man said.
A pinch hit single was followed by a ground rule double by Chris Coghlan and Chicago had their foot in the door. Javier Baez kicked the door open when he deposited a double in the left center gap.
“We tried a lot of sliders, he didn’t bite on them,” Neshek said. “I felt like the pitch I made was a pretty decent pitch inside and he got his bat out and hit it right in the gap.”
He would get the next two hitters quickly, but the road to the final out would go through Soler once again. On the first pitch, the 22-year-old swung with everything he had and sent a ball over the left field stands 438 feet into the concourse. If Baez had opened the door, Soler had just blown it off its hinges.
“Soler got me pretty good. I missed really bad on that pitch. It was interesting, he’s never seen me before and he was hacking like that. It was a pretty impressive home run,” Neshek said. The reliever said he wanted to go outside but missed his spot.
“That’s baseball,” Neshek said of having to return tomorrow after giving up two runs in an inning for the first time all season. “This game is not for the weak.”
Chicago added one more run on their fourth homer in the ninth, an Arismendy Alcantara solo shot.
The Cardinals would go scoreless after the first inning, finishing with eight hits on the night. Despite base runners in four of the eight innings after scoring, the Birds on the Bat couldn’t get a runner in.
Matheny remained confident in his offense after the game, saying he believes crooked numbers are a matter of time.
“I don’t care what the statistics say, this team has the ability to have big innings,” he said. “It hasn’t been as frequent as we’d like to see but it’s there.”
The Cardinals will have a little over 12 hours before they get a chance to exact revenge, as they have a day/night double header Saturday.