CHICAGO – Taylor Davis got the comeback started with a grand slam in the fourth inning. Javier Baez finished it with a go-ahead homer in the eighth.
Just like that, the surging Cubs are in position to grab the NL Central lead.
Baez led off the eighth inning with a tiebreaking drive, and Chicago wiped out a four-run deficit to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 on Saturday.
Yu Darvish avoided taking the loss and showed signs of continued progress despite surrendering all five St. Louis runs. He struck out four while giving up six hits and walking five in a four-inning, 81-pitch outing.
Baez drove a 2-2 pitch from John Brebbia (1-1) the opposite way to right for his 11th homer , sending the Cubs to their season-high sixth straight win. Fans chanted “Javy! Javy!” as he came out for a curtain call.
Davis hit a tying grand slam in the fourth against Michael Wacha for his first career homer, after Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Brandon Kintzler (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth. Pedro Strop retired all three batters in the ninth for his fourth save in five chances as the Cubs cut St. Louis’ lead in the NL Central to a half-game despite a shaky start by Darvish. They’re also eyeing a potential weekend sweep of their rivals.
“The first 10 games of the season, it was everybody talking about us,” Baez said. “And now, where’s everybody?”
Darvish threw 81 pitches, just as Kyle Hendricks did in Friday’s four-hit shutout, but was nowhere near as effective. He gave up five runs and six hits while walking five in four-plus innings.
The Cubs took the lead in the first on an RBI from Kris Bryant, but St. Louis tied the game in the second when Jose Martinez sent Darvish’s first pitch over center field for a solo home run.
Darvish gave up three runs in the fourth on a single to Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha that scored two runs and an RBI single to Matt Carpenter.
Skipper Joe Maddon left Darvish in after Davis tied the game in the fourth, but pulled his starter after two straight walks and a wild pitch in the top of the fifth.
Darvish (2-3), who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow last September, said he is growing in confidence despite mixed results so far this season.
“My program is about throwing strikes with my fastball, but now I can throw strikes with my two-seamer, so I can do a lot more,” the 32-year-old former Nippon Ham Fighters ace said.
“I’m close. I want to pitch good, but the first goal is (for) the team to win.”
Reds 9, Giants 2
In Cincinnati, Nick Senzel hit his first major league homer two innings after being robbed of one by center fielder Kevin Pillar, and the Reds beat San Francisco.
Pillar climbed the fence and made a spectacular grab on Senzel’s drive in the third, but Cincinnati’s top prospect left no doubt his next time up in the fifth. He followed Derek Dietrich’s third homer in two games with his own solo shot into the right-field seats, one of five homers for the Reds.
Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 2
In Denver, Luke Weaver pitched seven strong innings, Nick Ahmed and Carson Kelly hit back-to-back home runs in a three-run second for Arizona.
Yoshihisa Hirano threw a scoreless inning of relief for the Diamondbacks.
Red Sox 15, White Sox 2
In Chicago, Boston strung together 10 straight hits against White Sox left-hander Manny Banuelos, ending one hit shy of the major league record during a nine-run third inning.
Banuelos (2-1) retired his first eight batters before Christian Vazquez opened the Red Sox’ two-out rally with a single. Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis and Eduardo Nunez each homered, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez had RBI doubles, and Vazquez capped the streak with another single before White Sox manager Rick Renteria pulled Banuelos with a 9-1 deficit.
Carson Fulmer replaced Banuelos and interrupted the hit parade by walking Andrew Benintendi.
The Colorado Rockies had a major league-record 11 straight hits during a 17-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field on July 30, 2010.
Astros 14, Angels 2
In Monterrey, Mexico, Alex Bregman hit two of Houston’s five home runs and the Astros broke out the bats in a big way.
Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and George Springer also homered for Houston in the opener of a two-game series in Mexico. After totaling just four runs in losing their previous two games to Minnesota, the Astros teed off at the raucous Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey. Houston scored in each of the first six innings in building a 10-2 lead.
In Other Games
Nationals 10, Phillies 8
Braves 9, Marlins 2
Twins 7, Yankees 3
Indians 5, Mariners 4
Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
Orioles 3, Rays 0
Pirates 6, Athletics 4
Royals 15, Tigers 3
Rangers 8, Blue Jays 5
Dodgers 7, Padres 6
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5