Despite having to travel for the make-up game and start a pitcher fresh off the disabled list, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-4 in a potential playoff preview at SunTrust Park.
Tommy La Stella hit a pinch hit two-run home run in the sixth inning, and the Cubs’ bullpen made the result hold as the Cubs won for the eighth time in their last nine games.
In his first start since being placed on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, Mike Montgomery struck out six batters and allowed four earned runs, but his bullpen picked him up, combining for four and a third innings of shutout baseball to seal the victory.
Brandon Kintzler got the win for the Cubs, and Pedro Strop registered his 11th save of the season.
The Cubs got off to a hot start in the second inning, as Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber each picked up RBI groundouts to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. Contreras then struck again in the third, as he laced a double to left field to score Anthony Rizzo and extend the Chicago lead to three runs.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the Braves stormed back. Freddie Freeman had an RBI single in the third to get Atlanta on the board, and then he tripled in the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3. On the play, Jason Heyward tweaked his right hamstring, and was forced to exit the game.
Kurt Suzuki then hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Freeman and giving the Braves the lead.
The Atlanta lead didn’t last however, as La Stella launched a home run to right field to put Chicago back in front. The home run was La Stella’s 20th pinch hit of the season, tying a Cubs record.
From there, the bullpen cruised, and the Cubs cut their magic number in the National League Central to 25.
The Cubs will now head to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies in a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.