For three innings, Dallas Keuchel did his thing, pitching to contact, leading to three double plays. He was cruising, and so were the Braves, as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Yu Darvish and the Cubs. Nick Markakis delivered the icing on the cake with a three-run homer – his 7th of the season. Brian McCann also added a solo shot off the right-field scoreboard.
However, Atlanta’s momentum was halted by inclement weather resulting in a delay. Electricity rained down from the sky around historic Wrigley Field, but it didn’t last for too long. Within an hour, the teams were back on the diamond, and Dallas Keuchel returned to the mound.
No excuses – but the break in action didn’t do the Braves newest addition any favors. Willson Contreras’ bat stayed hot with a high fly ball well up into the left-field bleachers – his second homer of the series. That gave the Cubs life, as Kris Bryant added a solo shot in the fifth, and Contreras tripled in the sixth. Heyward brought Chicago’s catcher home with a ground out, cutting the Braves cushion to two and leading to Keuchel’s exit.
His final line was: 5 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 strikeouts, and 3 walks
Once again, it was not his Cy Young stuff, but he kept the bats in the game. It’s about all that should be expected from a pitcher making his second start of the season without any spring training against a potent lineup. He was much more efficient this time around and was rewarded with a win – thanks to the now untouchable Braves bullpen.
Jacob Webb relieved Keuchel in the sixth and quickly retired the last batter with a groundout to third. Newcomb continued his stellar work out of the bullpen with a scoreless 7th, but the usual late-inning arms (Swarzak, Jackson) were not available. Snitker turned to Touki Toussaint in the 8th, and that’s where things got interesting.
After forcing Javy Baez to pop up, Toussaint understandably pitched carefully to Willson Contreras, who coaxed a walk. Jason Heyward followed him with a base hit, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. Addison Russell stepped up with two hits and a walk to his name on the night, but he struck out against Touki’s patented curveball. That would be the end of the line for Toussaint, as Snitker turned to A.J. Minter for the final four outs of the game.
The estranged lefty that was once considered the primary closer began the outing as he has looked all season – wild. His second pitch nearly hit Victor Caratini as it scooted to the backstop, advancing the tying run into scoring position. The Cubs still needed a hit; however, and Caratini could not come through. Minter battled back from a 2-0 deficit and struck him out with a 94-mph cutter at the bottom of the zone.
The ninth inning didn’t start so promising either. Kyle Shwarber led off with a towering shot to left, but Johan Camargo was able to snag it a few feet shy of the ivy in left field. In either of the first two games of the series, the ball would have been well into the bleachers, but the wind was holding up everything on Wednesday. A groundball to short would retire Albert Almora Jr. for the second out, and then Minter finished it in style with a strikeout of Kris Bryant.
The Braves go for the third win of a four-game series with the Cubs tomorrow at 2:20 Eastern Time. Bryse Wilson is set to make his first start since the second game of the season versus Philadelphia. Tyler Chatwood will start for the Cubs.