The Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves duked it out in game three of their series today. This was going to be a game where every run truly did matter.
Starting pitcher Jon Lester, fresh off his DL stint, got off to really rough start. In the first inning, the lead off man hit a single, followed by the next batter walking. He had two men on with no outs. The third batter, Freddie Freeman, struck out, finally getting the first out of the inning. The next man hit a single to center, loading the bases with only one out. It was starting to look like this could end up like Lester’s disastrous outing against the Pirates before the All Star break. The 5th batter struck out, keeping the bases loaded and two outs for the next batter. He fouled out, stranding all three base runners and ending the inning. Not the prettiest or most relaxing inning, but at least nobody scored.
Anthony Rizzo led off the 2nd with a long single, followed by Ben Zobrist walking, putting two men on for Javier Baez, who struck out. Jason Heyward was up next with two on, one out, and walked. Bases loaded with one out for Rene Rivera. And man, did he deliver. He smashed his first career Grand Slam. Welcome to Chicago, Rene! 4-0 Cubs. Lester followed up with a sharp single to right, bringing up Jon Jay, who struck out. Kyle Schwarber singled, bringing up Kris Bryant who popped out, ending the inning. 4-0 Cubs going to the 3rd.
The Braves got on the board in the 3rd, off of a Freeman 2 run homer, followed by a Matt Kemp solo home run. 4-3 going to the bottom of the 3rd. The Cubs now only lead by one, rather than that cushy 4 run lead the had at the beginning.
Javy gave the Cubbies some breathing room, with a solo home run, his 21st of the year, in the 3rd. 5-3 Cubs going to the 4th.
The Braves got that run right back though, with a solo homer in the 4th. 5-4 going to the home half.
Jon Lester walked to lead off the 4th, Jay singled, bringing up Kyle Schwarber, who walked, loading the bases for Kris Bryant. KB struck out, bringing up Rizzo, who brought in three with an RBI triple. He now has 100 RBI’s for the season, and more importantly, the Cubs had their 4 run lead back. 8-4. Javy brought him in with an RBI double, bringing up J-Hey with a man in scoring position, and two outs. He brought him in with an RBI single, making it 10-4, and bringing up Rivera with one on, two out. He grounded out, ending the inning, but giving the Cubbies much needed breathing room. 10-4 going to the 5th.
KB scored on a wild pitch in the 6th, making it 11-4, going to the 7th.
Justin Wilson walked back-to-back batters in the 7th, and thanks to an RBI double, both scored, making it 11-6. Koji Uehara replaced him after that, inheriting a base runner and one out. An RBI single made it 11-7, followed by a double, putting men on second and third with one out. Thankfully the damage was limited to just those three runs scoring. 11-7 going to the home half of the 7th.
Rivera singled in the 7th, followed by pinch hitter Tommy La Stella walking. Jay hit a sac bunt to advance the runners. Albert Almora Jr. singled on a ground ball, bring both of them in. 13-7, with a runner on first, and one out for KB who struck out. Rizzo was up next, and grounded out, ending the inning. 13-7 going to the 8th.
Felix Pena walked the first two batters in the 8th, prompting Joe Maddon to bring in Carl Edwards Jr. to replace him. Those two runs scored, making the score 13-9 going to the bottom of the 8th.
J-Hey finally got the home run he was long over due for in the 8th, making it 14-9, going to the 9th.
The Braves got some runs in the 9th, making it 14-12.
A little too close for comfort, but a “W” is a “W”.
The Cubs have won 6 in a row, and remain in first in the National League Central. Mike Montgomery will take the mound Sunday in the series closer against the Braves and will go for the sweep, then will go the Pittsburgh for a 4 game set against the Pirates.