The Chicago Cubs remembered how to hit with runners in scoring position on Monday night versus the Atlanta Braves! The offense came, and stayed, alive and the bullpen did their job, for the most part, in the 8-3 victory.
Jon Lester worked a quick first on the mound for the Cubs. He got consecutive ground outs from Ronald Acuña Jr and Dansby Swanson, followed by a fly out from Freddie Freeman.
The Cubs weren't able to get on the board versus Braves starter Julio Teherán in the first. Kyle Schwarber led off with a ground out. Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch and Anthony Rizzo then walked, but Javier Báez grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Willson Contreras led off the second inning with his 16th home run of the season to put the Cubs on the board first at 1-0. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers took umbrage with something about the homer and he and Contreras had words after Contreras crossed home plate. Flowers then directed his ire at Rizzo as the benches and bullpens cleared, and both teams were issued warnings. On replay it appeared that Contreras may have said something to Flowers right after he hit the home run, but the exact exchange will remain a mystery.
After the short delay, Jason Heyward hit a ground-rule double and David Bote followed with a walk. Carlos González grounded into a double play and Jon Lester flew out though to end the inning.
Báez singled in the lead off spot in the fourth and went on to steal second with Contreras at bat. Contreras hit a single, scoring Báez, and putting the Cubs ahead 2-0
The Cubs really piled on runs in the fifth inning. González led off with a walk and Lester followed with a single. Schwarber hit a ground-rule double, scoring González. Bryant and Rizzo each singled, and Báez doubled. With the score now at 6-0 in favor of the Cubs, Chad Sobotka was brought in to pitch in relief of Teherán. Contreras grounded out but scored Rizzo and the Cubs would end the inning winning 7-0.
The Braves broke the shutout in the sixth inning. Acuña singled to lead off, followed by a fielder's choice from Swanson. Bote missed a catch at second and Acuña advanced to third on the error. After a strikeout from Freeman and a pop out from Josh Donaldson, Nick Markakis singled to center, scoring Acuña and Swanson. The inning ended with the score at 7-2.
Daniel Descalso pinch hit in Lester's spot in the bottom of the sixth and grounded out. González had previously struck out for the first out, and the third out was recorded on a fly out from Schwarber.
The Cubs put Brandon Kintzler in to pitch in the seventh. He faced Ozzie Albies first, who singled to right. Flowers then grounded out to second. Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce stuck out swinging, as did Acuña for the third out.
Bryant struck out swinging against new Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Rizzo also struck out, and Báez grounded out back to Toussaint.
Pitcher Tony Barnette made his Cubs debut in the eighth and probably didn't get the result he wanted from the first batter he faced. Swanson led off with a home run to right field and the Braves were now trailing 7-3. After a single from Freeman and a fly out from Donaldson, Barnette was pulled in favor of Kyle Ryan. Ryan got Markakis to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Heyward hit his 11th home run of the season in the eighth to put the Cubs up 8-3.
Heyward moved from center field to right in the ninth, Albert Almora Jr entered the game in center, Addison Russell took over at second for Bote, and Steve Cishek pitched for the Cubs. He got Austin Riley to strike out swinging, followed by a fly out from Albies. Flowers, fittingly, struck out looking to end the game.