Cubs give up just three hits, somehow lose to Braves

by - Senior Writer -
Adbert Alzolay recovered well after giving up a leadoff home run in his first career start. (Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)
Adbert Alzolay recovered well after giving up a leadoff home run in his first career start. (Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — In an old-fashioned National League duel that featured seven combined hits, the Chicago Cubs (43-36) came up short to the Atlanta Braves (47-33) at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. Needing just three hits to tally the win, the Braves topped the Cubs 3-2, thanks to a pair of home runs. The Cubs, meanwhile, scored both of their runs on a double off the bat of catcher Willson Contreras on the night that top pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay made his first big-league start on the mound for Chicago.

After earning the winning decision in an impressive relief appearance in his major-league debut last week, Alzolay took part in his first start for the Cubs on Tuesday, and he put together 4 2/3 innings of 1-hit ball. Alzolay was understandably not given much leeway in his starting premiere, and he was yanked from the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. Fortunately for Alzolay, he was able to recover after getting off on the wrong foot, as the Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the contest with a first-pitch home run out to left field. That marked the lone hit given up by Alzolay, who struck out four batters and received a no-decision.

On offense, the Cubs went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, with the North Siders squandering multiple opportunities at the plate. The worst instance of a wasted scoring chance by the Cubs came in the bottom of the second, when boneheaded baserunning resulted in an inning-ending double play. With the bases juiced and one out, Alzolay completely whiffed on a bunt attempt, and lead runner Javier Baez was then caught in a rundown between third and home. After Baez was tagged out, Contreras got gunned down while attempting to slide in at third. It appeared as if Contreras might have touched the bag before the tag was applied, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted not to risk losing his challenge on the close call.

Contreras made up for getting thrown out by smacking a go-ahead double in the bottom of the fourth. Providing himself with his fourth and fifth RBI of the series, Contreras hit a 2-bagger into the left-field corner that plated Baez and Anthony Rizzo to put the Cubs up 2-1. Outside of that, Braves starting pitcher Max Fried did not make any significant mistakes in his winning performance, as he got taken for a mere two hits while fanning eight hitters over the course of his six innings pitched.

The Braves regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh, with Ozzie Albies, who has performed remarkably well with a bat in his hands against the Cubs this season, hammering a go-ahead 2-run homer. After giving up a 1-out single to Brian McCann, Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery got taken deep by Albies, whose blast into the bleachers beyond right-center field made the score 3-2 in favor of the Braves.

The Cubs' last legitimate chance of manufacturing runs was ruined by yet another costly double play. In the bottom of the eighth, Chicago boasted runners on first and second with no outs before Kris Bryant grounded into a double play, which was followed by an inning-ending strikeout suffered by Rizzo. With their 3-2 loss in the books, the Cubs are now 1-1 through two installments of the 4-game series versus the Braves.

Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs
Jun 25, 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Atlanta (47-33) 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 3 0
Chicago (43-36) 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 1
W: Max Fried (9-3) L: Mike Montgomery (1-2) S: Luke Jackson (12)

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