Monday night’s series opener against the Cubs had the makings of a pitcher’s duel with both of the clubs’ top pitchers taking the mound for the first time since the All-Star break. Jon Lester, coming off an outing in which he failed to complete an inning and allowed ten runs, was back to his normal self, feasting on Braves hitters.
Atlanta was able to strike first because of an errant throw by Javier Baez while trying to turn a double play that put Ender Inciarte on second for the red-hot Brandon Phillips. Phillips stayed hot with an RBI single, but that would be all the luck the Braves would have against Lester.
On the good side, Julio Teheran took the mound for the first time since he went seven scoreless against the Nationals. Early on, he looked a lot like he did in Washington, efficiently working through the Cubs lineup with very few problems. However, he hit a bit of a road block in the fifth that began with a leadoff walk to Jason Heyward.
A Javier Baez single followed by a wild pitch would put runners at second and third with nobody out. Later in the inning, Ben Zorbist would make Teheran pay with a weak single up the middle that scored two. Teheran would battle through the remainder of the fifth and sixth innings, in part from two fantastic plays from Freddie Freeman, on his way to a final line of 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned and five strikeouts.
The Braves would turn to Ian Krol in relief, but he was unable to keep the Cubs from adding insurance. They tacked on two more against the struggling lefty, pushing their lead to 4-1 heading into the ninth.
Wade Davis looked to close the game for the Cubs. The All-Star was a perfect 17 for 17 in save opportunities heading into Monday’s game, but as we have seen so many times this year, these Braves do not die easy. They battled once again on Monday, scoring two runs and loading the bases up for the rookie Johan Camargo. With two-outs, Camargo would pop out to shallow left, ending the Braves hopes for a miracle comeback.
Atlanta looks to even the series tomorrow, as the rookie Sean Newcomb get the rock for the first time since the break.