ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't exactly a crisp, clean performance, but St. Louis managed to avert a sweep by the Chicago Cubs.
Pete Kozma's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning snapped a tie as the Cardinals ended a taxing stretch of 21 games in 20 days with an 8-4 win Sunday at Busch Stadium.
Randy Choate (2-1) got the last out in the top of the sixth to pick up the win, while Blake Parker (1-2) drew the loss less than 24 hours after earning his first major league victory. Edward Mujica pitched the last two innings for his 31st save, his first since July 25.
With the score even at 4-4, Tony Cruz drilled a double to right-center field and Kozma followed by lining an 0-1 offering into center field, scoring Cruz ahead of David DeJesus' throw.
St. Louis (67-50) added a run in the seventh on Jon Jay's sacrifice fly and two more in the eighth on RBI doubles by Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig.
The Cardinals improved to 2-5 on their 10-game homestand and won for just the fifth time in 18 games. They moved within 3 1/2 games of Pittsburgh for first place in the National League Central, pending the outcome of the Pirates' game in Colorado.
St. Louis roared to a 3-0 first-inning lead against Edwin Jackson. Matt Holliday and Jay sandwiched RBI singles around David Freese's sacrifice fly.
The Cubs (52-65) got a run back in the third when Holliday appeared to lose Junior Lake's fly ball in the sun and missed it for a two-base error that scored DeJesus.
Freese's bases-loaded groundout to third in the bottom of the inning plated Carpenter for a 4-1 lead.
Darwin Barney's infield single in the fourth drew Chicago within 4-2. The Cubs got even in the sixth when Starlin Castro and Barney stroked RBI singles off reliever Seth Maness.
NOTES: St. Louis RF Carlos Beltran fouled a pitch off his right foot in the fifth, struck out and then left the game with what the team called a contusion. X-rays on his foot came back negative and he's listed as day-to-day. ... To make room for OF Darnell McDonald, who was called up Saturday, Chicago transferred OF Thomas Neal (separated right shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list. ... The Cardinals still haven't their announced their starting pitchers for the last two games of their big series with Pittsburgh that starts Tuesday. RHP Adam Wainwright will work the series opener against the Pirates' Charlie Morton.