Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel was thrown right into the fire on Thursday, but he came out on the winning end of the battle as he earned the save in a 9-7 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Coming into the game with a raucous ovation, Kimbrel allowed a pair of baserunners in the ninth inning before Anthony Rizzo made a lead-saving diving tag of first base to end the game and give the Cubs the victory.
Kyle Schwarber led off the game with his 17th home run of the season, and Victor Caratini hit his second home run of the season in the win. Jason Heyward drove in three runs and scored twice for the Cubs, who finished off a 5-5 homestand.
Tyler Chatwood struggled in the starting role, giving up six earned runs while walking four batters in five innings of work. The bullpen largely held the Braves in check down the stretch, giving up just two hits and one run to Atlanta in the final four innings of the contest.
After Schwarber's lead-off home run, the Braves scored six unanswered runs, with Dansby Swanson smacking an RBI double in the third and an RBI single in the fourth inning to help put Atlanta ahead 6-1.
From there, the Cubs roared back. Heyward smacked an RBI single in the fourth to score two runs, and then he scored on a wild pitch to make it a 6-4 game.
In the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo hit a ground-rule double to left field, scoring Kris Bryant, and then Heyward tripled to center field to tie the game up at 6-6.
Heyward was able to trot home from third as Caratini launched a home run to right center field, giving the Cubs an 8-6 advantage.
Ozzie Albies homered in the sixth for the Braves, but it wasn't enough as the Cubs added an insurance run on a passed ball by Tyler Flowers in the sixth inning.
The Braves got a pair of runners on in the ninth inning, but with two outs Freddie Freeman grounded a ball to Rizzo at first. Hustling up the line, Rizzo dove and tagged the bag to end the game and give Kimbrel his first save in a Cubs uniform.
The Cubs will now head to Cincinatti for a three-game series with the red-hot Reds.