Cardinals gird for road challenge vs. Cubs ace

Club confident about facing Arrieta after splitting first two NLDS games at home

Cardinals gird for road challenge vs. Cubs ace

ST. LOUIS -- Just when it looked as if they had all the momentum at the onset of Saturday's Game 2 vs. the Cubs, the Cardinals lost it, in what seemed a blink of an eye. Now they head to Chicago with the National League Division Series split at one game each following a 6-3 loss to the Cubs.

Leaving home with a split looks less appealing as the Cardinals have a date with Cubs ace Jake Arrieta in Game 3 on Monday (4:30 or 6 p.m. ET on TBS).

Game Date Results
Gm 1 Oct. 9 STL 4, CHC 0
Gm 2 Oct. 10 CHC 6, STL 3
Gm 3 Oct. 12 CHC 8, STL 6
Gm 4 Oct. 13 CHC 6, STL 4

"We all knew it was going to be a tough series," Cardinals catcher Yadier 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."

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In the Wild Card era during NLDS matchups that used the 2-2-1 format, the team that split the first two games on the road have gone on to win the series 17 of 29 times.

"No one said it was going to be easy," Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "This is a great team we're playing. They've battled us all year long here and there. We expected them to come in here and play a good game, and we expected to come in here and play a good game. We lost the game, but we'll go battle like we always do and see what happens."

St. Louis looked poised for a Game 2 win when Matt Carpenter led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run for a 1-0 lead. But Chicago answered with a five-run second inning -- including two squeeze bunts for runs -- and saved themselves from being one game from elimination.

Carpenter's leadoff homer

The Cardinals were 11-8 in the regular season vs. the Cubs, but that record looked less rosy at Wrigley Field where they were 4-5. The ballpark will be the site of a postseason game for the first time since 2008, with rabid Cubs fans desperate for the team's first World Series title since 1908.

Michael Wacha will get the ball for St. Louis. Although Wacha won 17 games in the regular season, he struggled over the final month and will have to give his club a strong performance.

Can Wacha rekindle postseason magic in Game 3?

"You can't win a championship if you don't win on the road," said Cardinals reliever Carlos Villanueva, who is a former Cub. "Obviously we wanted to go up there up 2-0 but in the same way they came here and won a game today, we have to go there and win a game."

Put Arrieta into that equation and Cardinals fans might need to take a deep breath. Arrieta was 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 33 starts, but even more imposing since the All-Star break. He is 11-0 with a 0.41 ERA in his final 12 regular-season starts.

Including the postseason, Arrieta has not allowed a run in his last 31 innings.

Matheny on NLDS Game 2 loss

"He's a good pitcher. Obviously, his numbers show that, but we're pretty confident," Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk said. "We've had some success against him in the past. We're going to go out there and battle."

Arrieta was 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against St. Louis this season, but has not faced the Cardinals since July 7.

"It's just another pitcher we have to go up and beat," second baseman Kolten Wong said. "We obviously know how good he is and what kind of pitcher he is. We're just going to go up there and put some good at-bats together and see if we can get him."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.