(BaseballStL) -- With September rapidly approaching, the Cardinals had lost the past four games, including two to division rival Chicago Cubs. And with a day-night double header, the Cardinals called upon their 26th man, Marco Gonzales to plug a stop and the 21-year-old delivered to pull his team within a game of first.
The first inning was rough for Gonzales as he allowed a lead off walk and two one-out singles to give the Cubbies their first run. But the southpaw was able to get the next two batters to fly out and limit the damage to just one run.
"You always try to get the first under your belt so you can kind of his cruise control," Gonzales said, "After that I kept the ball down and kept out of trouble. I started to settle in the back half of that inning. I was just trying to rush things."
That's the only run Gonzales allowed through his 6.0 innings and 99 pitches, and Mike Matheny said he was aware on how quickly that inning could have snowballed into something worse. However, he was impressed with Gonzales' swing and miss stuff.
"I felt like he did a good job of speeding them up and slowing them down," Matheny continued, going on to Gonzales kept batters off balance.
"We needed a big day from him and that's the best outing he's had for us so far," Matheny added, "He's getting better, watching him using more movement. He's using some sink now and feels more comfortable with the cutter."
Matheny said Gonzales began to work on the cutter in his stint with the club back in late June into July, but that he was able to work on it more in Triple-A Memphis. Gonzales said he also worked on his consistency and giving the same each time he heads to the mound.
"My main objective all night was fastball command and then off-speed, down in the zone," Gonzales explained. He also said he had faced some of the Cubs' hitters in Triple-A while also recognizing the big hitters were getting pitches up in the zone.
"We just wanted to keep the ball down tonight and let the defense do the work," he said.
The defense held up and Gonzales was rewarded with a 425 feet shot from Matt Holliday that plated three and earned the southpaw his first MLB victory. The game ball could be seen in his locker, but he deflected the praise and gave his teammates the credit.
"The whole team played really well tonight and a victory like that feels good," Gonzales said, "It was no more than going out there and giving my all for the team."
With Milwaukee's 3-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the Cardinals move to within 1.0 game of first place.