Game One Hundred Fifty-Six – Cubs 2, Braves 5
WP – Julio Teheran (13-8) LP – Edwin Jackson (8-17) Save – Craig Kimbrel (49)
Five years and two days after the Cubs beat the Cardinals and celebrated winning the NL Central title at Wrigley Field, the Cubs watched the Atlanta Braves rush the field after the final out on Sunday as the Braves reached their year-long goal of becoming NL East Champs.
The Cubs dropped the series finale to the Braves on Sunday and finished the season series against Atlanta with one win in six games (1-5). The Braves actually won the division before the 27th out was recorded when the Marlins beat the Nationals in the first game of the twin bill at Nationals Park. The Braves were able to celebrate winning the division when Craig Kimbrel struck out Junior Lake (0-for-4 with four strikeouts) to end the game.
The Braves pounded Cubs’ pitching on Sunday. All five of the Braves’ runs scored on three home runs. Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons took Edwin Jackson deep then Simmons launched a two-run homer off of Brooks Raley in the eighth that put the game well out of reach for the Cubs. The Braves pounded out 12 hits with only one walk while Julio Teheran held the Cubs’ offense in check for a majority of his six innings of work.
Edwin Jackson picked up another quality start and did his job after giving up two runs in the first inning. Jackson surrendered only one other run in his last five-plus innings of work and gave his team a chance at a comeback. Jackson allowed three runs on eight hits with no walks, a wild pitch and six strikeouts. Jackson threw 109 pitches, 70 for strikes, in six-plus innings.
The Cubs pen could not keep the Braves from tacking on. James Russell made his first appearance in over a week and made two outs on six pitches when he struck out Jason Heyward and Dioner Navarro threw out Jose Constanza at second base. Blake Parker surrendered a hit to the only batter faced. But after picking up the final out in the seventh, Brooks Raley was left in for the eighth and Andrelton Simmons hit hit second longball of the day, a two-run shot. Hector Rondon was sharp once again and struck out two of the four batters he faced in the ninth.
The Cubs offense was not existent on Sunday. After scoring a run on two hits in the first inning, the Cubs managed only two more hits from the second inning until the eighth. The Cubs ended up with eight hits, seven singles, and one walk. The Cubs struck out 11 times on Sunday afternoon.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) reached on a two-out double in the first and scored on a single by Dioner Navarro (2-for-4 with a RBI). Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a RBI) plated the Cubs’ second run in the eighth when he grounded out to second with Darwin Barney (2-for-3 with a run scored) at third base.
Anthony Rizzo collected his 39th double of the season on Sunday, the most doubles by a left-handed hitter in a single season by a Cubs’ player since Mark Grace hit 41 in 2000.
With Sunday’s loss (8-17 on Sundays in 2013), the Cubs dropped to 65-91 on the season with six games left to play.
Jason Heyward led off the game with a single to left. Jackson then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Heyward to move up ninety feet. It took 10 pitches, but Jackson struck out Justin Upton swinging for the first out.
Freddie Freeman was sitting on first pitch fastball and he did not miss it. Freeman launched his 23rd homer of the year out onto Sheffield Avenue and gave the Braves an insurmountable lead. Jackson struck out Chris Johnson swinging for the second out. Brian McCann reached on an infield single to short but did not advance. Jackson caught Evan Gattis looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Edwin Jackson struck out the side in the first but he also gave up three hits and a two run home run. Jackson threw 28 pitches, 20 for strikes, in the first inning.
The Cubs tried to get back in the game in the bottom of the first. After Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena made routine outs to short and second, Anthony Rizzo doubled to right. Dioner Navarro singled to right, Rizzo scored and cut the Braves lead to 2-1. Schierholtz popped out to Simmons for the third out.
Edwin Jackson retired the side in order in the second and the Cubs did nothing against Julio Teheran in the second.
Edwin Jackson was able to work around a two-out single by Freeman in the third without allowing the Braves to tack on. Chris Johnson grounded out to Castro to end the inning. The Cubs did nothing, again, in the third and the game went to the fourth with the Braves up 2-1.
The Braves added on in the fourth after Jackson struck out Brian McCann swinging and Gattis popped out to Barney for the second out. Andrelton Simmons lined a 1-2 pitch into the basket in left and gave the Braves a 3-1 lead. The Braves just kept on hitting. Elliot Johnson singled to center but Teheran tapped back to Jackson to end the inning.
Julio Teheran made quick work of the Cubs in the fourth and the game went to the fifth with the Cubs down by two runs.
Edwin Jackson gave up another two-out single to Freeman in the fifth but Chris Johnson rolled out to Castro for the third out.
The Cubs had a chance to tie the game in the fifth. Brian Bogusevic led off with a single to left. After Junior Lake struck out swinging, Darwin Barney singled to center. With runners on first and second with one out, Edwin Jackson got the bunt down and both runners move up ninety feet.
Starlin Castro put together a very good at bat that did not end well. Castro worked a full count but struck out swinging on the 11th pitch of the at bat to end the inning.
The game went to the sixth with the Cubs down 3-1.
Edwin Jackson struck out Brian McCann and Evan Gattis for the first two outs in the sixth. Simmons then reached on an error by Starlin Castro. Jackson kept the ball down and retired Elliot Johnson on a grounder to Barney to end the inning. The Cubs went down in order quickly in the sixth and the game went to the seventh with the Cubs still down by two runs.
Edwin Jackson started the seventh and gave up an infield single to pinch hitter Jose Constanza. Jackson fielded the ball but his throw to Rizzo was a little high and Constanza beat it out. Dale Sveum decided that was enough for Jackson and went to his pen for James Russell.
Russell struck out Heyward swinging and Navarro threw out Constanza at second to complete the strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play. Sveum went back to his pen for Blake Parker. Justin Upton singled to left and Sveum made his third pitching change of the inning. Brooks Raley replaced Parker and was able to get out of the inning when Freeman grounded out to Barney for the third out.
The Cubs did nothing against Luis Avilan in the seventh and the game went to the eighth with the Braves still up 3-1.
Brooks Raley was left in for the eighth and struck out Chris Johnson swinging for the first out. Brian McCann then reached on his second infield single of the game. Raley struck out Jordan Schafer swinging for the second out.
Andrelton Simmons stepped in and launched his second longball of the day. This one ended up in the bleachers in left center and gave the Braves a more than comfortable 5-1 lead. After walking Elliot Johnson, Raley caught pinch-hitter Reed Johnson looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
Luis Ayala started the eighth for the Braves and was unable to make a play on a ball hit over the mound off the bat of Darwin Barney. Barney reached with his second hit of the day, and just the fifth for the Cubs at the time. Ryan Sweeney hit for Brooks Raley and put together a very good at bat. Sweeney worked a full count before driving a single into left. Barney was running with the pitch and ended up at third with one out. Starlin Castro hit a slow roller to second. Elliot Johnson fielded the ball and flipped to Simmons. But the ball was not hit hard enough to turn two. Castro reached, Barney scored and the Cubs were down 5-2.
Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen for lefty Alex Wood to face Luis Valbuena. Sveum countered with Donnie Murphy and he rolled into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down by three runs.
Hector Rondon was sharp again. Rondon gave up a single to Justin Upton with one out, but that was all. Rondon struck out Heyward to start the inning, Freeman for the second out and Paul Janish flied out to Lake in left for the third out.
Craig Kimbrel caught Anthony Rizzo looking at a 1-2 pitch for the first out in the ninth. Dioner Navarro singled to left. Justin Upton tried to make a diving catch and was ruled to do so at first. After Dale Sveum asked for the umps to discuss what was obviously a trapped ball, the call was reversed. Nate Schierholtz bounced a 1-2 pitch back up the middle that went for an infield single. With two on, Kimbrel struck out Bogusevic and Lake to end the game.
The Braves celebrated winning the National League Eastern Division crown on the mound at Wrigley.
The Cubs begin their final series of the season at Wrigley on Monday night with the first of three against the Pirates. Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Charlie Morton in game one.