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Imanaga pitched seven solid innings as the Cubs defeated the Cardinals 5-1

CHICAGO – Shota Imanaga pitched seven effective innings and Ian Happ hit a three-run homer to help the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Saturday.

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

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 base with one out. But Imanaga (7-1) retired Dylan Carlson on a flyball and struck out Brendan Donovan to maintain a 2-1 lead.

Imanaga pumped his left arm emphatically after Donovan swung and missed a 134.1 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.

The Cubs (34-37) then broke the game open 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 home run.

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

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.

St. Louis right-hander Andre Pallante (2-3) left with one out and runners on first and second base. Chris Roycroft came in and mishandled Nico Hoerner’s grounder down the first base line, allowing Cody Bellinger to score. Seiya Suzuki raced home on a grounder by Dansby Swanson in front of the plate.

Cardinals: C Willson Contreras (left arm fracture) took batting practice Friday in St. Louis. …LHP Steven Matz (back injury) is expected to throw about 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 conducting live batting practice in Arizona on Friday. … RHPs Caleb Kilian (shoulder injury) and Julian Merryweather (rib stress fracture) each had a bullpen session Friday.

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

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb