ST. LOUIS - Known for years as a free-swinging team not interested in working the count, the Chicago Cubs are trying to change that reputation.
Saturday night was a good step in that direction, according to manager Dale Sveum.
Chicago worked wild St. Louis pitchers for seven free passes, including two straight that set up its three-run rally in the top of the eighth inning, and the Cubs came from behind for a 6-5 win.
The Cubs entered the series drawing fewer than three walks per game but picked up six in Friday night's 3-0 win over St. Louis and were even more discerning in this one.
"That's what we're trying to create in the organization and up here," Sveum said. "If you can't drive the ball, take it. That's what good hitters do. They don't go outside the zone or below it or above it. They let their neighbor do the damage."
Trailing 4-2 as entering the eighth, Chicago took advantage of surprising wildness from Cardinals setup man Trevor Rosenthal.
In 54 innings, the flame-throwing Rosenthal (1-3) had walked just 12 and struck out 77 and had a 2.17 ERA. But he played with fire right away by giving free passes to Welington Castillo and Nate Schierholtz.
After Starlin Castro and Cody Ransom struck out, Darwin Barney ripped a 3-2 pitch to right center for a tying double.
"He was missing high, elevating to the previous hitters," Barney said of Rosenthal. "The guys who laid off that pitch found their way on base. I was just telling myself, 'Get something down, get something you can handle.'"
Pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro followed with a tie-breaking double, his seventh hit in 20 pinch at-bats this year. It was his first action since spraining his right ankle on Wednesday night at Philadelphia in a collision with the Phillies' Chase Utley.
"Walk and squat, one time," Sveum quipped when asked what Navarro had to do to play. "That was good enough for me."
Schierholtz tacked on insurance with an RBI single in the ninth off Michael Blazek as the Cubs (52-64) won for just the fourth time in 13 games.
Blake Parker (1-1) worked a scoreless seventh inning for his first big league win. Kevin Gregg yielded Matt Holliday's second homer of the game in the ninth but picked up his 25th save.
St. Louis (66-50) fell to 1-5 on its 10-game homestand and 4-13 in its last 17 games. It now trails National League Central leader Pittsburgh by 4 1/2 games, pending the result of the Pirates' rain-delayed game in Colorado.
The long ball played a prominent role early, a surprise because Busch Stadium has allowed the second-fewest home runs this year. Only Miami's Marlins Park has been stingier.
Chicago grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Castillo led off with his fourth homer of the year. It came on a 2-0 pitch from Michael Wacha, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to make his first big league start since June 11.
After facing the minimum through three innings, Chicago's Carlos Villanueva ran into trouble in the fourth. With Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran aboard after singles, Holliday lined a three-run shot to left, his 14th of the season and first since July 9.
Castillo drew the Cubs within a run in the fifth with a sacrifice fly. Wacha left after the fifth, requiring 99 pitches to finish his stint.
"I felt good and my body felt good, but my arm was dragging a little bit," Wacha said. "I should have gone farther into the game."
The Cardinals made it 4-2 in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Carpenter and Beltran. But with their pitching staff issuing walks as though they were candy -- they've doled out 29 in the last six games -- the lead wasn't safe.
NOTES: The Cubs selected the contract of OF Darnell McDonald from Triple-A Iowa and sent down C J.C. Boscan. The 34-year old McDonald played a combined 42 games last year with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, hitting .205. ... The Cubs won a series in St. Louis for the first time since Sept. 13-15, 2010. ... St. Louis sent RHP Carlos Martinez to Memphis so Wacha could make the start. Martinez started Thursday night for the Cardinals and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, leaving in the fifth inning because of cramping.