ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis rookie right-hander Michael Wachta did his job Saturday night.
The Cardinals bullpen did not.
Wachta tossed five solid innings, but it wasn't enough as the Chicago Cubs rallied for a 6-5 victory that gave them their first series win in St. Louis in almost three years.
Wachta, the Cardinals' top draft choice in 2012, surrendered two runs on five hits over five innings. He walked three, struck out four and left with a 3-2 lead in what amounted to a spot start. He was recalled earlier in the day from St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.
``He threw some good curveballs,' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ``Overall, he just couldn't control the counts like he wanted to.'
Wachta, in his fourth major league start, set the Cubs down in order on 10 pitches in the first and needed just 11 pitches to get through the fourth. But he walked the bases loaded in the third and was nicked for two hits and a run in the fifth.
``My arm felt good, my body felt good,' Wachta said. ``But some pitches got away from me and my arm started dragging.'
Wachta, 1-0 with 4.37 ERA, is likely headed to the bullpen. He threw 99 pitches and admitted there is room for improvement.
``I've got to go deeper in games,' he said.
Chicago catcher Dioner Navarro, picking up a bat for the first time in three days, lashed a run-scoring double in the eighth inning to break a tie and cap a three-run rally that helped the Cubs win their second game in as many nights.
Matt Holliday homered twice for St. Louis, which lost its fourth in a row. Chicago won for the third time in four games.
``Matt had a big night for us,' Matheny said. ``We needed someone to step up.'
It was the 18th multi-homer game for Holliday, who extended his hitting streak to eight games, tying a season high.
Navarro arrived in St. Louis early in the afternoon after undergoing a battery of tests following a scary home-plate collision with Philadelphia's Chase Utley on Wednesday night. Navarro was carted off the field with what was thought to be a broken ankle.
But X-rays and an MRI showed no damage, so Navarro rejoined his team in time for Saturday's contest. After speaking with manager Dale Sveum, it was determined that Navarro could be used, ``only in a game-winning situation,' the catcher said.
Navarro didn't take batting practice Saturday, yet as a pinch hitter in the eighth he slapped an offering from reliever Trevor Rosenthal into the gap to break a 4-4 tie.
``I knew he was going to throw me a fastball,' Navarro said. ``He didn't want to go to 2-1 (in the count). I put a good swing on it and was fortunate enough to hit it in the gap.'
Navarro's ability to come off the bench cold and drive a 98 mph pitch impressed his teammates, especially infielder Darwin Barney, who tied the game with a two-run double in the eighth.
``The guy is unbelievable,' Barney said. ``He gets here today, he hasn't taken a swing. To turn on 98 after having not seen a pitch in three days, that's pretty unbelievable.'
Navarro convinced Sveum that he was good to go before the game.
``We tested to find out if he was even ready to play,' Sveum said. ``You don't worry about him because he's so good off the bench.'
Navarro is 7 for 20 (.350) as a pinch-hitter this season.
The Cubs trailed 4-2 entering the eighth, but tied it 4-4 on Barney's two-out, two-run double off Rosenthal (1-3). Navarro followed with his fifth pinch-hit RBI of the season to give Chicago a 5-4 lead.
Blake Parker (1-1) picked up the victory for the Cubs, who last won a series in St. Louis on Sept. 13-15, 2010.
Chicago has captured the first two games of this set despite struggling since mid-July. Barney says the Cardinals simply bring out the best in his club.
``You hate to say it, but you get up more for games like this,' Barney noted. ``They're in the hunt, and we're playing spoilers once again. Hopefully, we can keep doing it.'
Welington Castillo homered in the second to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
Castillo and Nate Schierholtz drew leadoff walks to start the eighth. Rosenthal struck out the next two batters before Barney hit his 20th double of the season.
Kevin Gregg picked up his 25th save in 29 opportunities despite giving up Holliday's 15th homer of the season, a solo shot with one out in the ninth. Gregg retired the final two batters on ground outs.
St. Louis switched around its starting rotation for the series, moving ace Adam Wainwright, the original Saturday starter, to Tuesday so he could face Pittsburgh in the first game of a three-game series between the top two teams in the NL Central.
Darwin said the move did not go unnoticed in the Chicago clubhouse.
``It wasn't not talked about, let's say that,' he said.
NOTES: Barney is 7 for 15 with six RBI in his last four games against the Cardinals. ... St. Louis OF Jon Jay, INF Daniel Descalso and C Tony Cruz met with several Real Madrid soccer players, including standout Cristiano Ronaldo, before to Real Madrid's match with Inter Milan earlier in the day. ... St. Louis rookie C Rob Johnson started for the third time this season and had two hits. ... Cruz is mired in an 0-for-10 slump. ... Chicago is 34-34 since May 26.
Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.