Braves snap Cubs’ six-game winning streak
CHICAGO — Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker hadn’t seen enough of Max Fried to know what to expect ahead of the left-hander’s first major league start on Sunday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
But Fried quickly settled into a rhythm and pitched out of trouble when he needed to as the Braves snapped the Cubs’ six-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory.
Rio Ruiz drove in three runs for the Braves, but it was Ruiz’s former travel ball teammate that set the tone.
Fried (1-0) limited the Cubs to one run and four hits in five innings. Fried, who had made four appearances for the Braves in relief this season, struck out four and walked three.
Atlanta’s bullpen combined for four scoreless innings to cap the victory that ended the Braves’ three-game losing streak.
“This is definitely a big, big win for me,” Fried said. “ ... Just getting the win today was my goal.”
Immediately after the victory, Fried said he wasn’t certain when the reality of his first big-league win would settle in. Given the surroundings and the uncertainty around a pitcher who hadn’t thrown more than four innings since before the All-Star break, capturing the win where he did and against the first-place Cubs only added to the meaningfulness of his outing.
“It’s Wrigley Field against the world champs, there’s a lot of energy out there and a lot of emotion,” Snitker said. “I thought he handled himself really, really well.”
The Braves took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning when Dansby Swanson broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single. The hit drove in Freddie Freeman, who led off the inning with a double.
Ruiz extended the Atlanta lead with a single that scored Nick Markakis, who drew a one-out walk ahead of Swanson’s single.
Atlanta tacked on two runs in the ninth inning with Ruiz’s two-run single off Cubs reliever Felix Pena after Markakis singled and Swanson doubled to lead off the inning.
Cubs starter Mike Montgomery (5-7) took the loss after allowing the three runs in five innings. He allowed five hits and one walk and had one strikeout.
The Braves built a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Matt Kemp’s sacrifice fly that scored Ozzie Albies, who singled with one out. Ian Happ tied the score in the second with a home run.
Trailing by two runs in the fifth, the Cubs loaded the bases after Fried deflected a Ben Zobrist hit that appeared to be a routine infield groundout. But Fried got Albert Almora Jr. to ground weakly to second to protect the Atlanta lead and to pitch out of the only jam he found himself in.
“He was real efficient and made pitches when he had to,” Snitker said. “He allowed himself to stay out there and get a win.”
A day after scoring 14 runs to extend their winning streak to six games, the Cubs managed just five hits, including just one after the fifth inning.
The Cubs played without shortstop Javier Baez, who left the game with blurred vision after getting kneed in the head on a headfirst slide on a stolen base attempt in the second inning.
Baez remained on the ground before being examined and returning to the field in the third inning. Baez pulled himself out of the game.
The injury isn’t expected to be serious as the Cubs head into a four-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates starting Monday. The news was positive for the Cubs, who couldn’t follow up their productive offensive on Saturday in Sunday’s series finale.
“Just because you score 14 (runs) the day before to me really doesn’t mean anything,” Maddon said. “You’ve still got to out and and play it.
“It’s not that we can’t beat them, we just didn’t today.”
NOTES: Braves 1B Freddie Freeman will have his left wrist checked Monday to make sure there is no structural damage. Freeman returned from a fractured wrist three weeks early and has noticed a steady decline in strength. ... Braves INF Johan Camargo (right knee bone bruise), INF Danny Santana (strained left quad) and OF Adonis Garcia (torn left finger ligament) are expected to be activated off the disabled list on Monday. ... Cubs LHP Rob Zastryzny was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Zastryzny is beginning his fourth stint with the Cubs this season and has made one relief appearance. He has gone 2-3 with a 5.94 ERA and one save in 14 appearances with Iowa, including seven as a starter.