Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo homered and combined for seven RBIs and the Chicago Cubs earned their fifth straight win, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-5 in the middle game of a three-game series on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals have the best record in the majors at 87-51, but have dropped five of six. Their lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central slipped to 4 1/2 games. The Cubs are 6 1/2 back and are second in the NL wild card race behind the Pirates.
St. Louis was down 8-0 and had been outscored 24-1 over three games before pinch-hitter Randal Grichuk sparked a five-run seventh with a two-run homer estimated at 451 feet into Big Mac Land in the seventh. Grichuk was activated from the disabled list strictly to pinch run on Monday.
Rookie Stephen Piscotty had two hits and two RBIs for St. Louis.
Jason Hammel (8-6) allowed three runs in six-plus innings for Chicago, which has won five in a row.
Michael Wacha (15-5) gave up six runs in four innings, his shortest outing of the season and on 10 days' rest. Like Lance Lynn a day earlier, the 24-year-old right-hander got pushed back and it backfired.
Lynn, held back three days by a sprained ankle he claimed felt fine, was spanked for six runs in 2 1-3 innings on Monday in a 9-0 loss.
Wacha had been 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA in six career September starts.
HEAD TO HEAD
Rizzo's two-run homer in the first was the 100th of his career, and he added an RBI single against Carlos Villanueva in the seventh. He's 8 for 19 against Wacha with two homers and four RBIs. Castro hit a three-run homer off Wacha (15-5) in the second. He's 9 for 19 against the right-hander with two homers and six RBIs.
Cubs: Kyle Schwarber (oblique/ribs) grounded out pinch hitting in the eighth and could return to the lineup Wednesday after missing five games.
Cardinals: Kolten Wong (calf tightness) missed his second straight start.
Link to box score: Chicago Cubs (80-57) 8 at St. Louis (87-51) 5