Cubs give up three in eighth, fall to Braves
|Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:37 PM- -|
ATLANTA — In the opener of the three-game set in A-Town between the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs, the Cubs used a late-game run to come away with a win. The second game saw the Braves turn the tables, producing a three-run eighth frame to earn a 4-1 win.
The Cubs continued their recent unfortunate trend of struggling to hit with runners on base, leaving nine stranded on the night. In the first inning, Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant smacked a one-out double but was not brought home.
The Braves, on the other hand, took advantage of a leadoff double by second baseman Ozzie Albies that hit off the wall in right-center in the first inning. A few at-bats later, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman hit an RBI single to right-center that scored Albies, giving the Braves an early 1-0 lead.
If not for Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr.'s, incredible defensive prowess, the Braves would have led 2-0. Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers jacked a bomb to straightaway center field to begin the bottom half of the second. Almora prevented the well-hit ball from leaving the playing field, as he scaled the wall for a perfectly timed catch to rob Flowers. Flowers even congratulated Almora, Jr., for the grab with a wink during Almora, Jr.'s next plate appearance.
Albert Almora Jr. flashing the leather in center and robbing a homer from Tyler Flowers!! pic.twitter.com/oPc1DgoCq4— Paul Sporer (@sporer) May 17, 2018
With the exception of the first inning, Chicago starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood pitched fairly well at SunTrust park. In 5.1 innings, Chatwood gave up just four hits and two walks, which marked the fewest walks allowed by Chatwood since his second start of the season. The right-hander also tallied two strikeouts.
Chatwood escaped a precarious situation in the fourth, as the Braves nearly produced a two-out rally. After walking Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with one out, Chatwood gave up a double to Flowers that was well-played by Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber, thereby holding Markakis at third. Atlanta center fielder Ender Inciarte flied out to left in the next at-bat, ending the scoring threat.
The Cubs took advantage in the next inning, scoring a run to tie the game. Right fielder Ian Happ started the inning with a single to left-center. Then, following a sacrifice bunt by Chatwood and a strikeout by Almora, Jr., Bryant collected an RBI on a single to left-center that scored Happ from second base. Bryant went 3-4 on the evening, collecting three of the Cubs' eight hits.
That run proved to be the only one allowed by Braves starting hurler Brandon McCarthy, who struck out eight batters in six innings of five-hit ball. Chicago was presented with a golden opportunity to score off Braves reliever Shane Carle in the seventh, as shortstop Addison Russell led off with a double to deep left. But a pair of fly outs and a strikeout ensued for the Cubs, leaving the game tied.
The North Siders also boasted runners on first and second with one out in the eighth but failed to get the ball out of the infield for the remainder of the inning. Those missed opportunities came back to bite the Cubs, with the Braves tacking on three runs in the bottom of the eighth to get revenge on the Cubs for their late-game rally on Tuesday.
Cubs middle reliver Carl Edwards, Jr., earned a lucky winning decision on Tuesday after giving up the lead in the eighth inning and being bailed out by the Cubs' two-run ninth. He was not so lucky on Wednesday, getting taken for three earned runs as part of a losing decision. With one out, Albies cracked another well-hit ball to deep right-center. This time, he stretched it into a triple and was scored soon afterward on a single to left by Ronald Acuna, Jr., that put the Braves up 2-1.
In the proceeding at-bat, the Cubs cost themselves by utilizing a defensive shift, as Freeman lofted a liner near third base with no third baseman around to attempt to catch it. Rolling down the left-field line, the hit allowed Acuna, Jr., to make it to third base, and Freeman reached second base on Schwarber's throw to third.
Following an intentional walk of Markakis that loaded the bases, Edwards, Jr., unintentionally walked Flowers to bring in a run. Edwards, Jr., was pulled thereafter, and Justin Hancock took the hill for Chicago. With two outs, Hancock, too, walked in a run, leading to the 4-1 final tally in the Braves victory.
In the top of the ninth, Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino redeemed himself from a blown save the night before, going three up, three down for his eighth save. Edwards, Jr., was handed the loss to become 1-2, and Braves reliever A.J. Minter received the win to improve to 2-0.
The leadoff man for the Cubs reached base for five consecutive innings at one point in the contest, assuredly making the lack of run support even more biting for the North Siders, who have now dropped three of four. The Braves (26-16) totaled seven hits, one fewer than the Cubs (22-18), but they hit well with runners on base, beating the Cubs at SunTrust Park for the very first time, as a result.