Cubs shutout Braves for fifth straight win
Dennis Wierzicki - USA Today Sports

Cubs shutout Braves for fifth straight win

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO – The Cubs took a second game from the Braves on Friday afternoon 2-0. This pushes their current win streak to five in a row and adds to their current lead over their central division opponents. John Lackey (11-10, 4.74 ERA) rebounded from his previous start against the Phillies, when he gave up five earned runs in one inning, and held the Braves scoreless over seven innings today.

Lackey had a great day on the mound fooling some hitters with his slider and generating quite a few whiffs in the process. His eight strikeouts were a good sign, but with the wind blowing in from center field, the majority of his outs were through the air. Lackey has given up the most home runs in any given year this year, partially due to having more fly balls.

Not the high-scoring affair that the Cubs have been used to recently, this shutout was fueled by timely hitting and defensive precision. In the bottom of the third, Javier Baez walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice by the pitcher. Kyle Schwarber barely beat out the throw, but Baez turned and sped home, ignoring baserunning convention, and beat the throw from first. The play at first was reviewed and indeed he did score.

Timely hitting was featured in the bottom of the fourth after a double to right field from Anthony Rizzo, which was his sixth in the last two weeks. Ian Happ immediately singled to right and put the Cubs up by two.

The offense had one more good chance in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, but Alex Avila and Jason Heyward both struck out looking to end the inning.

The defense has looked very sharp over the past few weeks, almost resembling their 2016 form. The top of the second featured two outstanding plays nearly followed by a third. The first was a somersaulting grab by Schwarber in left on a Nick Markakis line drive. He reached down as far as he could and left his feet head-over-heels all while still holding on to the ball.

The second was Bryant reaching down and throwing out an above-average runner in Kurt Suzuki on a swinging-bunt down the third base line. Two pitches later, Ben Zobrist just missed fielding a ball that rolled into right-center field for a single, but the inning ended without harm.

Wade Davis concluded the game with his 28th straight save in a Cubs uniform. Davis broke Ryan Dempster’s record for most consecutive saves at 26 and will hopefully continue to add to it during the rest of the season.

Tomorrow Jon Lester (8-7, 4.37 ERA) returns from the disabled list and gets back into action against Lucas Sims (2-4, 4.41 ERA) and the Braves. Game time is set for 1:20 PM CDT.

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