CHICAGO (AP) — Welington Castillo homered and drove in the winning run with a 10th-inning single, giving the Chicago Cubs a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that tightened the NL Central race Tuesday night.
St. Louis’ lead was reduced to 1 1/2 games over second-place Pittsburgh, which clinched a playoff berth by beating Atlanta.
With four games to play, the Cardinals, who secured a postseason spot last weekend, still have a magic number of four to wrap up their second consecutive division crown.
Castillo finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs, and Matt Szczur also homered for the Cubs. Zac Rosscup (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for his first major league win.
Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer for St. Louis. Pat Neshek (7-2) took the loss.
The Cubs had lost four of five while being outscored 45-22 during that span.
With the score tied at 3, Anthony Rizzo hit a one-out double off the base of the wall in right-center and advanced to third on a groundout by rookie Jorge Soler.
Luis Valbuena was intentionally walked to get to Castillo, who drove the ball into the right-center gap to easily score Rizzo.
Both starters had pitched well of late, but neither was able to get through the sixth inning this time.
St. Louis starter Shelby Miller entered 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four September starts, but lasted just 4 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits.
Miller left trailing 3-0 and Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks appeared in control through five innings, but the right-hander managed to retire just one batter in the sixth and left with the score tied. Hendricks allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings.
The Cubs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second when Valbuena led off with a walk and Castillo followed with a two-run drive deep into the left-field bleachers.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the fifth when Szczur led off with a solo homer that just made the first row of bleachers in left-center.
The Cardinals got on the board in the sixth with an RBI groundout by Jon Jay to make it 3-1. Hendricks still seemed in control, but he left a 2-2 pitch out over the plate to the next batter and Holliday deposited it into the left-field bleachers to tie the score.
Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny said RHP Michael Wacha is expected to make his next start Friday in Arizona. Wacha, who missed three months earlier in the season with a stress reaction in his right shoulder, was down just briefly two weeks ago before making a start against the Reds on Saturday.
Cubs: SS Starlin Castro will likely miss the remainder of the season, manager Rick Renteria said. Castro injured his left ankle against Milwaukee on Sept. 2.
The finale of the three-game series is Wednesday night. Cardinals RHP John Lackey (14-9, 3.86 ERA) faces Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (9-5, 2.65), who pitched a one-hitter in his last start against Cincinnati.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.