Cubs’ Lester rebounds from worst start to beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Jon Lester tried to forget his most recent start, but it wasn’t so easy.
The veteran left-hander admitted it bothered him to think about how he was knocked around as he never had been in his career.
Lester bounced back to throw seven strong innings on Monday, helping the Chicago Cubs win their fourth consecutive game, a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park.
Lester (6-6) showed none of the issues that plagued him in his previous outing, when he was tagged for 10 runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 9.
“The long layoff let it kind of fester and think about that for a while,” he said.
He threw 102 pitches on Monday and allowed one run on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Lester retired the last 10 batters he faced.
“There have been some things the past couple of starts that haven’t felt right,” Lester said. “I don’t know if it was the break or what, but I was just able to get my body to repeat a little better tonight. Stuff had a little more crispness to it than the last start.”
Lester also contributed on offense with a double, a walk and the first stolen base of his career.
Koji Uehara worked a scoreless eighth, but the Braves rallied to scored twice in the ninth against closer Wade Davis. Atlanta had the bases loaded before Davis retired Johan Camargo on a soft fly to left to end the game and earn his 18th save.
“I’ve probably had two or three this year where I‘m like I don’t know where anything is going,” Davis said. “With the outcome that the team wins, I‘m not even upset. We just had to scratch and get out of it somehow.”
The Braves provided plenty of theatrics in the final inning. Davis allowed three hits and two walks before facing off against Camargo, a rookie who entered the game batting .333. Davis finally retired Camargo on a 2-2 pitch that landed in the glove of left fielder Ben Zobrist.
“It was like a playoff game almost with the energy in the stadium,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “I felt good with the last two guys we had up there. That’s these guy’s M.O. They give you a hard 27 outs. We gave ourselves a chance.”
Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers said, “It was fun, and it was almost real fun. Great job getting guys on, putting some pressure ... a lot of quality at-bats in that inning.”
Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-4 and homered for the third straight game. He launched a seventh-inning line drive against reliever Ian Krol that sailed over the 400-foot sign in straightaway center field for his 23rd homer.
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (7-7) lasted six innings and allowed two runs on five hits and four walks. Teheran threw 107 pitches and retired the side in order only once. He stranded runners at third base three times and at second base another time. It was the seventh straight home loss for Teheran.
“Julio really battled his way through,” Snitker said. “Those last two innings he really had to work. He never gave in, he kept pitching. He wasn’t as sharp as he’s been, but he gave us a chance to win. He kept the game manageable.”
The loss ended Atlanta’s three-game winning streak.
The Braves scored the game’s first run in the third inning.
Ender Inciarte reached on a fielder’s choice and took second when Chicago shortstop Javier Baez fired his relay throw about 20 feet wide and into the Atlanta dugout. Inciarte stole third, an outcome verified by a video review, and scored on a looping single hit by Brandon Phillips.
The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Zobrist’s two-run single. Chicago went on to load the bases with two outs, but the Braves escaped when first baseman Freddie Freeman snared Kyle Schwarber’s line drive and raced to the bag for the putout.
NOTES: The game started one hour and three minutes late because of a storm in the area. ... A sellout crowd of 41,256 was in attendance. It was Atlanta’s eighth sellout of the season. ... The Braves activated INF/OF Sean Rodriguez (left shoulder surgery) and OF Danny Santana (bacterial infection) from the disabled list and sent INF Jace Peterson and RHP Jason Hursh to Triple-A Gwinnett. Rodriguez, who had missed the entire season after being involved in an automobile accident in January, played third base and went 0-for-3 with a walk. ... The Cubs will activate RHP John Lackey (5-9, 5.20 ERA) from the disabled list on Tuesday, and he will start against the Braves and LHP Sean Newcomb (1-4, 4.26). Lackey has being sidelined due to right plantar fasciitis.