Imanaga pitches 7 solid innings as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-1

CHICAGO (AP) — Shota Imanaga pitched seven effective innings and Ian Happ hit a three-run homer, helping the Chicago Cubs hold off the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Saturday.

Imanaga allowed one run and four hits in his second straight win. The Japanese left-hander struck out six and walked none while improving to 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his first seven starts at Wrigley Field.

“He pitched an incredible game,” manager Craig Counsell said. “I thought his fastball was so good today. Just his location with his fastball was excellent all day.”

Chicago had lost three of four and 15 of 21. It was the team's first win in four games against rival St. Louis this season.

The Cardinals threatened in the seventh, putting runners on first and second with one out. But Imanaga (7-1) retired Dylan Carlson on a flyball and struck out Brendan Donovan, preserving a 2-1 lead.

Imanaga emphatically pumped his left arm after Donovan swung and missed an 84.1 mph sweeper for strike three on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. The rookie finished with a career-high 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Asking what he was thinking as he retired Donovan, Imanaga said he was “pretty hungry.”

“So I was thinking about what kind of food, nutrition, I should take after the game,” he said through an interpreter. “This is my honest thoughts.”

The Cubs (34-37) then broke open the game in the bottom half. With two outs and two on, Happ drove a 1-2 slider from John King deep to left-center for his seventh homer.

“To not have to give the bullpen a one-run lead and try to ask them to hold it, you know it was great,” Happ said.

St. Louis (34-35) finished with four hits. It had won three in a row and four of five to get back to .500.

"(Imanaga) did a really nice job,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “That mix of the four-seamer with the split was tough for the guys, obviously. We weren't able to string a whole lot together off of him.”

The Cardinals jumped in front on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly in the fourth, but the Cubs responded with two runs in the bottom half.

Andre Pallante (2-3) departed with one out and runners on first and second. Chris Roycroft came in and mishandled Nico Hoerner's grounder up the first base line, allowing Cody Bellinger to score. Seiya Suzuki scampered home on Dansby Swanson's grounder in front of the plate.

Pallante was charged with one earned run and five hits. He pitched five scoreless innings in a 5-1 victory over Colorado in his previous start.

“I felt like my stuff was really good," he said. “I was commanding the ball really well. I think a couple of the hits they got were on really good pitches.”

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: C Willson Contreras (left arm fracture) took batting practice on Friday in St. Louis. ... LHP Steven Matz (back strain) is expected to throw approximately 50 pitches in a rehab appearance with Double-A Springfield on Sunday. ... RHP Giovanny Gallegos (shoulder impingement) allowed three runs and three hits in one inning in a rehab appearance with Springfield on Friday.

Cubs: LHP Jordan Wicks was placed on the 15-day IL with a strained right oblique, and RHP Keegan Thompson was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. ... RHP Yency Almonte (shoulder strain) is nearing a rehab stint in the minors after he threw live batting practice in Arizona on Friday. ... RHPs Caleb Kilian (shoulder strain) and Julian Merryweather (rib stress fracture) each had a bullpen session on Friday.

UP NEXT

Right-handers Miles Mikolas (4-6, 4.85 ERA) and Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.09 ERA) pitch on Sunday in the series finale. Mikolas is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last six starts for St. Louis. Taillon tossed six scoreless innings in Chicago's 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

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