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Cards 'pen holds off Cubs after lengthy delay

Martinez works 9th; Gallegos steps up in high-leverage spot
@anne__rogers
June 2, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- A 3-hour, 37-minute rain delay forced the Cardinals to rethink their game plan, but it didn't stop their momentum Saturday night. The Cardinals were tied with the Cubs when play resumed in the bottom of the fifth inning at 11:20 p.m. CT. After taking the lead in

ST. LOUIS -- A 3-hour, 37-minute rain delay forced the Cardinals to rethink their game plan, but it didn't stop their momentum Saturday night.

The Cardinals were tied with the Cubs when play resumed in the bottom of the fifth inning at 11:20 p.m. CT. After taking the lead in the sixth, the Cardinals relied on multiple roles out of the bullpen to protect a slim lead.

And the Cardinals ended their skid of eight straight losing series -- their longest winless series streak since 1990 -- by taking the second game against the Cubs, 7-4.

Box score

Jack Flaherty allowed two runs and four hits over five innings and was getting into a groove when the storms hit. He had thrown 77 pitches and likely had more innings left in him, but after about an hour into the delay, his night was done.

"It's not fun," Flaherty said. "It was one of those things where you do what you can to help the team win and when your time comes to get out of the game, you got everyone else's back. It was fun to watch them do it after that delay. It's hard, not easy to do, you come in and sit around forever, and then you get back up to play."

John Gant (4-0) pitched a no-hit sixth after the delay, but John Brebbia put two runners on in the seventh. So the Cardinals turned to a veteran and a young pitcher for damage control.

Andrew Miller relieved Brebbia and got Daniel Descalso out on a fielder's choice and then struck out Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo to limit the Cubs to two runs. Then reliever Giovanny Gallegos, who was called up from Triple-A in April and has stayed with the team since then, came in to protect a one-run lead in the eighth.

It was the highest-leverage situation that Gallegos has faced this season -- his last six appearances have all been in losses -- and he did it in 14 pitches, striking out Willson Contreras and Addison Russell and getting Jason Heyward to fly out to center.

"It was a big eighth inning," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "We had gritty pitching the whole game, but Gio really stepped up, went out and continues to prove why he belongs here and continues to prove why he can get more high-leverage situations. It was a big inning for us."

Gallegos has been used in a variety of roles this season, from multiple-innings relief to shorter stints to Saturday's tight inning. Yet he didn't view Saturday as any different than just another outing.

"It's the same job for me," Gallegos said. "This team wants to win games and is prepared for any situation."

Jordan Hicks had pitched back-to-back days and two innings in the Cardinals' 2-1 walk-off win Friday, so he was unavailable. That left the ninth for Carlos Martinez, who needed just 10 pitches to notch his first save since Sept. 29, 2018 -- also against the Cubs.

Saturday was the first time Martinez pitched in three straight days since May 2014. But there wasn't any concern -- Martinez and the coaching staff knew he was going to have the ninth inning.

"[Martinez has] always shot me straight," Shildt said. "He went out to play catch and gave me the two thumbs up. I talked to him right before the game in the dugout when he comes around, and I said, ‘You've got the ninth?' And he said, ‘Yeah, I'm good.' I said, 'OK.'

So after a shaky May, the Cardinals have strung together three consecutive wins, and two straight against the Cubs as they enter June, thanks to strong pitching and boost from the offense.

It seemed to be worth the wait, at least for Saturday's game.

"Absolutely," Shildt said. "No question about that. Well worth the wait. Guys were ready to go, stayed locked in."

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.