Chicago pinch hitter Tommy La Stella hit a two-run homer as the visiting Cubs continued their surge atop the National League Central with a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on Thursday night.
La Stella followed a single by Kyle Schwarber in the sixth inning by hitting his first home run of the season as the Cubs won their eighth game in their last nine.
The win, a makeup date from a rainout in May, kept the Cubs 4 1/2 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals. The loss trimmed the Braves’ lead in the NL East to three games over the idle Philadelphia Phillies.
The Cubs entered the sixth trailing 4-3 after the Braves scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, two on a triple by Freddie Freeman, who then scored on a sacrifice fly.
Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz (10-9) couldn’t hold the newfound lead. In six innings, he gave up six hits and five runs (four earned), with two walks and five strikeouts.
The win went to Brandon Kintzler (2-3), who came on in the fifth for starter Mike Montgomery and allowed the sacrifice fly that scored Freeman while recording two outs.
Five Chicago relievers shut out the Braves over the final 4 2/3 innings, with Pedro Strop working the ninth for his 11th save.
The Cubs activated Montgomery, who had been out with shoulder inflammation, from the 10-day disabled list for Thursday’s game. In 4 1/3 innings, he allowed four runs on eight hits, with one walk and six strikeouts.
The Cubs scored two runs in the second inning on infield grounders by Willson Contreras and Schwarber. Contreras doubled in another run in the third.
The Braves scored in the third when Freeman singled home Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three of the Atlanta’s nine hits and scored twice.
Ben Zobrist had two of the Cubs’ six hits. His second-inning double was the 1,500th hit of his career. Freeman and Johan Camargo had two hits apiece for the Braves.
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward left in the bottom of the fifth inning when he made a diving attempt to catch Freeman’s triple. The Cubs announced during the game that Heyward had right hamstring tightness.
Lucas Duda, acquired from Kansas City on Wednesday, made his Atlanta debut as a pinch hitter and flew out.
—Field Level Media