Cubs top Braves for fourth straight victory
CHICAGO — Kyle Hendricks’ numbers suggested an efficient outing after he allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.
But Hendricks said it was anything but.
“Kind of from the start it was one of those days,” he said. “Uncomfortable, felt weird, command was terrible. It started in the bullpen. My timing was off. ... Today, the guys just made the plays behind me and scored enough runs and I kind of got through it.”
Hendricks still picked up a victory and the Cubs (73-60) extended their winning streak to four after beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2.
The win was the second straight and fourth consecutive quality start as Hendricks (6-4) improved to 2-1 since returning from the disabled list in late July.
Jon Jay went 4-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored. Kris Bryant was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer.
In the wake of Wednesday’s 8-for-10 day in Philadelphia, Ender Inciarte was a more modest 1-for-4 with a double for the Braves. Nick Markakis and Ozzie Albies each had two hits.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb (2-8) worked five innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and eight hits. He walked three, struck out seven and threw 101 pitches.
“He bent, didn’t break,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “I looked up there and the ball-strike ratio was better than it seemed during the game. Most of the hits were two-strike hits and off-speed pitches. They couldn’t do much with his fastball, (but) he couldn’t bury a breaking ball when he needed to.”
Bryant slugged his 25th home run of the season with one out in the sixth inning against Braves reliever Jason Motte. The two-run homer scored Ben Zobrist and extended the Cubs’ lead to 5-1.
Anthony Rizzo came up next and then nearly matched Bryant’s shot, but his long drive to deep center stayed in the park on a breezy night with wind blowing in.
“It’s kind of weird how this field plays,” Bryant said. “The days you don’t expect to hit a home run you do and the days you do expect to hit a home run you don’t.”
Bryant became the first player in franchise history with 25 or more homers in each of his first three big league seasons.
Atlanta’s Lane Adams clubbed a pinch-hit homer to left to trim Chicago’s lead back to three runs and ended Hendricks’ night.
Hendricks threw 99 pitches while walking three and striking out five.
The Cubs added a sixth run in the eighth as Jay tripled to left to lead off and scored on Zobrist’s single to right.
Rizzo gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with a fielder’s choice grounder to second that drove in Jay from third base. Javier Baez followed with a two-out base hit to right to bring in Bryant from third for a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning after Jace Peterson bobbled an Ian Happ grounder for an error on what would have been the final out. Newcomb then walked catcher Rene Rivera to bring home Rizzo for a 3-0 lead.
Newcomb got out of the inning by striking out Hendricks.
Jay singled to open the Cubs’ fourth and eventually reached third after a Zobrist sacrifice and a Bryant groundout. But the threat ended as Rizzo lined out to center.
The Braves (59-73) broke through in the fifth as Dansby Swanson reached on a Zobrist error and moved to third on Newcomb’s sacrifice and Inciarte’s groundout. He came home on Albies’ two-out RBI single to center.
The weekend series is the second series between Chicago and Atlanta this season. The Cubs swept three games from July 17-19 at SunTrust Park.
NOTES: Braves 2B Brandon Phillips was a late scratch amid reports of a impending trade to Anaheim, which were confirmed after the game. Phillips stroked his 2,000th career hit Wednesday with a first-inning single in the opening game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia. ... Atlanta sends RHP Mike Foltynewicz (10-10, 4.84 ERA) against Cubs right-hander John Lackey (10-10, 4.98 ERA) on Friday. ... Cubs LHP Jon Lester is expected to come off the disabled list Saturday and is scheduled to start in the series’ third game. ... SS Addison Russell, on the disabled list with a right foot strain, will be out three more weeks after an MRI revealed he reaggravated the plantar fasciitis in his right foot. ... The city of Chicago has approved a one-time exemption against Friday night games at Wrigley Field and will allow the Cubs to play a Sept. 8 night game against the Brewers. ... After the game, the Cubs acquired OF Leonys Martin and cash from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named and cash.