Cubs Go Down Swinging – Braves 5, Cubs 2

Game Thirty-Six: Cubs 2, Braves 5

WP – Aaron Harang (4-3) LP – Edwin Jackson (2-3) Save – David Carpenter (2)

The Cubs did a lot of swinging and missing in Atlanta during the three-game series and the result was their seventh straight loss at Turner Field on Sunday afternoon. After the Braves took an early lead against Edwin Jackson, the Cubs tied the game at two in the fourth on a Nate Schierholtz double. But Evan Gattis took Jackson deep in the home half and the offense did nothing but swing and miss the rest of the afternoon as the Cubs were swept out of Atlanta.

Edwin Jackson put together a typical Edwin Jackson outing. At times Jackson appeared confident and was able to throw his slider for strikes and his fastball past hitters. At other times, Jackson hung his slider and his fastball was belt high and right down the middle of the plate. Jackson gave up a pair of runs in the second inning and was bailed out by an excellent pick by Anthony Rizzo that started an ending double play.

Edwin Jackson technically put together a quality start after he allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Jackson threw 91 pitches, 54 for strikes, over six innings.

James Russell gave up the final two runs on Sunday afternoon. Russell hit pinch-hitter Dan Uggla to start the inning before he served up a two-run homer to Jason Heyward. Russell has given up two home runs to lefties this season (Pedro Alvarez), both on breaking pitches.

Neil Ramirez was excellent in the eighth and retired the Braves in order with a strikeout.

The Cubs outhit the Braves (9-7) for the second day in a row. But the offense could not string together any hits against Aaron Harang. The Cubs went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Harang struck out nine batters on the afternoon. Five of his nine strikeouts came in the third and fourth innings with runners in scoring position.

Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a walk) doubled in Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) and Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) in the fourth inning and tied the game at two. Darwin Barney (2-for-4), Welington Castillo (1-for-4), Ryan Kalish (1-for-4) and Edwin Jackson (1-for-2) all collected hits. Of the nine hits by the Cubs’ offense, only two went for extra bases.

The Cubs struck out 37 times in the three-game series in Atlanta … 11 times on Friday, 12 on Saturday and 14 times on Sunday. And the offense managed only four runs in 28 innings.

Sunday’s loss was the 10,000th defeat in Cubs history. The franchise is 10,450 – 10,000 all time since the team known as the White Stockings began play on April 25, 1876 with a 4-0 victory over Louisville.

With Sunday’s loss (2-4 on Sundays in 2014), the Cubs dropped to 12-24 on the season.

Aaron Harang faced the minimum in the first inning (12 pitches, eight for strikes) after Ryan Kalish led off with a single to center but was doubled up after Renteria called for a hit and run and Coghlan lined out to third. Edwin Jackson retired the Braves in order (16 pitches, nine for strikes) to start his afternoon.

The Cubs managed a one out walk by Nate Schierholtz in the second, but that was all against Harang and the Braves went to work on Edwin Jackson in the home half of the second.

Jackson issued a leadoff walk to Evan Gattis (3-2 pitch). Chris Johnson singled to center (2-2 pitch) and put runners on first and second with no outs. Ryan Doumit singled to right (3-1 pitch), Gattis scored and the Braves took a 1-0 lead. With runners on the corners and no outs, Andrelton Simmons crushed a 1-1 slider. The ball hit off the base of the wall in left. Johnson scored, 2-0 Braves, on Simmons’ double. Aaron Harang flied out to short right for the first out. With runners on second and third with one down, Jordan Schafer smoked a 1-1 pitch toward first. Rizzo made a good pick, looked at Doumit and took the ball to the bag. Rizzo saw Simmons had drifted too far off second and threw to Castro. Doumit broke for the plate. Castro threw home, Castillo chased Doumit back, threw to Olt and the Cubs third baseman tagged him out (3-6-5-2) to end the inning. The defense bailed out Jackson. And it took Jackson 43 pitches, 25 for strikes, to complete two innings on Sunday afternoon.

After two complete, the Braves had a 2-0 lead.

The Cubs put runners on again in the third inning, and once again the offense could not string together any hits. Darwin Barney and Edwin Jackson reached on back-to-back one out singles. Harang struck out Kalish and Coghlan swinging to end the inning. Harang threw 46 pitches, 30 for strikes, over his first three innings of work.

Thanks to an excellent defensive play by Darwin Barney, Jackson retired the Braves in order in the third (53 pitches, 30 for strikes) and the game went to the fourth with the Cubs down 2-0.

Anthony Rizzo worked a walk to start the fourth. Starlin Castro followed with a double to left and the Cubs had runners on second and third with no outs. Nate Schierholtz missed his first home run of the year by less than a foot. Schierholtz pulled a 2-0 pitch off the wall in right. Rizzo and Castro scored, game tied at two. Castillo, Olt and Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

As is usually the case when Edwin Jackson is on the mound, the game did not remain tied for long. Jackson has a habit of giving up runs in the next half inning after his teammates put runs on the board. Evan Gattis led off the bottom of the fourth and was sitting fastball. Gattis received a belt-high fastball at 93 mph and the ball ended up in the stands well beyond the left field wall. Gattis’ eighth longball of the season gave the Braves a 3-2 lead. Jackson retired Johnson (grounder to short), Doumit (swinging strikeout) and Simmons (grounder to third) in order to end the inning … 64 pitches, 37 for strikes, for Jackson after four innings.

The Braves led 3-2 after four innings.

Rick Renteria lifted Edwin Jackson after the sixth inning and the Braves removed any doubt of the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s game. James Russell replaced Jackson and hit pinch-hitter Dan Uggla to start the inning. Jordan Schafer bunted Uggla to second. Russell could not put Jason Heyward away. The Braves’ slugger launched a 3-2 pitch well over the wall in right center. Heyward gave the Braves a 5-2 lead with his third longball of the season. Russell retired Pastornicky and Freeman with grounders to second to end the inning.

At the end of seven complete, the Braves had a commanding 5-2 lead.

The Cubs put two on in the eighth against Alex Wood, but came away empty. After Neil Ramirez set the Braves down in order in the eighth, the Cubs went 1-2-3 against David Carpenter in the ninth to end the game.

The Cubs open a four-game series on Monday night in St. Louis. Travis Wood is scheduled to face lefty Tyler Lyons in game one.

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon