ST. LOUIS (AP) Less Starlin Castro has meant more production for the Chicago Cubs.
''No matter if I don't play, I just continue to work,'' Castro said after hitting a three-run homer and getting four RBIs in an 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night. ''I keep ready when my time comes.''
Castro, the Cubs' longtime starting shortstop, was moved to second base last month to make room for rookie Addison Russell and is hitting .252 in semi-regular duty. But he's batting .323 in his last 34 games after hitting just .101 the previous 19.
''I feel locked in right now,'' Castro said. ''I don't like not playing, but the team's playing pretty good and whatever is good for the team, I'll be here.''
Anthony Rizzo also homered and had three RBIs for the Cubs in the middle game of a three-game series.
''Starlin's been so professional,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''I think he's rested right now, too. He looks fresh out there.''
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.
Grichuk, who had been sidelined with an elbow injury, said he lobbied to play after taking batting practice and was told there was ''no risk of hurting it more.''
''The whole thing, I'm not believing everything I read,'' Maddon said, then added to reporters, ''Sorry, guys and ladies. I have to read between the lines all the time.''
Pedro Strop struck out Grichuk with the bases loaded to end the threat, pumping his fist as he jumped off the mound. Hector Rondon earned his 27th save in 31 chances.
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.
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.
''Everything felt really good,'' Wacha said. ''Just timing, really. Just couldn't get it under control and get the ball consistently down in the zone for strikes.''
Manager Mike Matheny hoped the move would ultimately pay off.
''We do what we can and then we live with the results,'' Matheny said. ''Sometimes you get immediate return and sometimes it's delayed and you stick with what's right regardless, but there's no lack of urgency.''
Lynn, held back three days by a sprained ankle he claimed felt fine, was tagged 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 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 Madden said he'll play Wednesday if he feels well.
Cardinals: Kolten Wong (calf tightness) missed his second straight start.
Jon Lester (9-10, 3.59) is 1-2 but with a 1.96 ERA in three starts against St. Louis this season. Carlos Martinez (13-7, 3.04) is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA against the Cubs.