Cubs Hold Off Late Rally to Beat Braves, 5-4

The Braves resumed their normal playing style today, playing terrible defense and having difficulty driving in runs. They scored three in the eighth but fell one short, losing 5-4.

Kosuke Fukudome led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on a single by Aramis Ramirez, who ran to second on the throw home and forced a bad throw that resulted in him going to third. He scored on a weak grounder by Tyler Colvin that was placed perfectly for an infield single. The Cubs scored their other three runs in the third when back-to-back walks set up back-to-back RBI singles by Ramirez and Colvin. Blake DeWitt added an RBI single for a five-run lead.

The score remained the same until the sixth, when Alex Gonzalez put the Braves on the board with an RBI double. The Braves loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. After Melky Cabrera struck out weakly in the same situation for a second straight game, Brooks Conrad delivered with a two-run double that scored a third run on a cutoff error by Starlin Castro. A walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases again with two outs, but Martin Prado grounded out to end the inning and preserve the one run Cubs lead.

The Braves were on base every inning but the seventh and spent most of the time in scoring position, but they couldn’t get the run producing hit. They got nine hits and six walks as a team, including five doubles. Another great job of getting on base and you can’t be angry about that. Gonzalez went 2-4 with a double, RBI, and walk. Conrad recorded a double and two RBIs as a pinch hitter. David Ross added a double and walk. Jason Heyward picked up two singles. The Braves got seven hits off Tom Gorzelanny but only one run in seven innings, striking out nine times.

Tommy Hanson was up to his old tricks of allowing weak singles and receiving bad defense. He gave up four earned runs and five total on seven hits in five innings. He did walk four but one was intentional and two came back-to-back. Only one hit was for extra bases and the three-run third had only one hard hit ball off Hanson, which was actually an out. He didn’t pitch that bad.

Eric O’Flaherty allowed two singles in a scoreless sixth. Kyle Farnsworth gave up a single but struck out the side in the seventh. Jonny Venters pitched a perfect eighth and struck out two.

As I had hoped, the Nationals gained from a favorable matchup and are on their way to beating the Phillies, which would preserve the 2.5 game lead for the Braves. They turn to Mike Minor to give them the series win Sunday afternoon, facing Randy Wells.