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Dylan Carlson, Nolan Arenado help Cardinals slug Cubs

St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado hits a two-run home against the Chicago Cubs in the third inning Thursday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado hits a two-run home against the Chicago Cubs in the third inning Thursday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

July 23 (UPI) -- Right fielder Dylan Carlson and third baseman Nolan Arenado smacked early home runs to carry the St. Louis Cardinals to a narrow National League Central division series finale win over the Chicago Cubs.

Cardinals starter Kwang Hyun Kim allowed just two hits and two runs over six innings in the 3-2 triumph Thursday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Carlson went 3 for 4 in the victory.

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"We have to keep fighting," Arenado told reporters. "It was a tough series. We had one tough loss.

"To come back the last two days with the same energy and same fire was really important. That's what winning teams do."

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Kim retired the first three Cubs batters in order. Carlson stepped up to the plate to leadoff the bottom of the first. The Cardinals outfielder fell behind 1-2 in the count. He then took two pitches for balls.

Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay tossed in a slider for final offering. Carlson obliterated the pitch and sent it to right field for a 420-foot solo homer.

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Both teams went out in order in the second. Kim got the Cubs out in order again in the top of the third. Arenado stepped up to the plate as the fourth Cardinals batter in the bottom of the frame. He hit a 1-1 Alzolay slider to left field for a 408-foot, two-run homer.

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Cubs center fielder Jake Marisnick hit a two-run double in the top of the fourth to tighten the score. The Cubs couldn't tie the game over the next five innings.

Cardinals closer Alex Reyes threw two strikeouts and issued a walk, but did not allow a hit in the ninth. He picked up his 23rd save of the season.

Alzolay allowed four hits and three runs in six innings to drop to 4-10 in 2021.

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The Cardinals (49-48) face the Cincinnati Reds at 7:10 p.m. EDT Friday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Cubs (47-50) host the Arizona Diamondbacks at 2:20 p.m. EDT Friday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

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