Szczur’s grand slam propels Cubs over Braves

by - Senior Editor -
<span style=Photo by David Banks / USATODAY">
Photo by David Banks / USATODAY

What happens when the team with the major’s worst record travels to take on the team with the best record? One finds a way to win and one finds a way to lose.

Anthony Rizzo’s run-scoring single and Matt Szczur’s grand slam highlighted a five-run eighth inning as the Chicago Cubs continued their best start since 1907 in defeating the Atlanta Braves 6-1 Friday afternoon at chilly and windy Wrigley Field.

The Cubs improved to 17-5 while Atlanta fell to 5-18. The marks represent the major’s best and worst records.

The teams were tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, but three Atlanta pitchers ran into trouble in the inning. Jim Johnson pitched just a third of an inning, giving up three earned runs and falling to 0-3 on the season. Johnson left with the bases loaded and one out and was replaced by Eric O’Flaherty. O’Flaherty’s 0-1 pitch to Szczur was deposited into the left field bleachers for a 6-1 Cubs lead.

The grand slam was the first of Szczur’s career – all of his previous four homers had been of the solo variety. David Ross singled home Javier Baez in the fifth to tie it for the Cubs before Rizzo’s bases-loaded single made it 2-1 in the eighth.

Jon Lester danced in and out of trouble all afternoon, but pitched seven strong innings and gave up just one run, a solo homer to right by Freddie Freeman in the fourth. Lester walked two but struck out 10 and didn’t figure in the decision. Pedro Strop pitched a clean eighth – including two strikeouts – in earning his first win of the season.

Closer Hector Rondon pitched the ninth in a non-save situation.

Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 2:20 p.m. The Cubs’ John Lackey (3-1, 4.97) will face off against the Braves’ Julio Teheran (0-3, 4.60).

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