It’s a winning formula, solid defense, great pitching, and home runs, the Cubs did all of that to celebrate the Fourth of July and beat the Braves 5-1. The Cubs are now 4-2 against the Braves this year, and they will look to win the four game series tomorrow night. Paul Maholm was stellar for the second straight start, he went six innings allowing one run on eight hits while walking one and striking out five to earn his sixth win of the season. The Cubs jumped on top in the first inning after hits from Castro and Rizzo put men at first and third with Soriano up. The Cubs almost executed a delayed double steal perfectly however Rizzo was caught stealing second, but it did allow Castro to score to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. The Braves tied the game at one in the third on a single by Martin Prado after a Michael Bourn triple, that was all Maholm surrendered. Recently named all-star Bryan LaHair put the Cubs on top for good in the fourth inning with his 14th home run of the season. The turning point of the game might have come in the bottom of the sixth when Alfonso Soriano made a spectacular throw to gun down Chipper Jones at the plate to keep the Cubs ahead by one. The Cubs tacked on in the seventh when Darwin Barney scored on a wild pitch, and Jeff Baker followed with a pinch hit solo home run off of Jonny Venters. Anthony Rizzo continues to impress as he closed out the scoring with his 3rd home run of the season, a line drive that got out in a hurry, both Rizzo and LaHair finished the night with two hits. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
The Cubs look to keep things rolling as they welcome the Atlanta Braves to Wrigley Field for a three game set. This will be the second series in a row where the Cubs will be facing one of the best teams in baseball. The Cubs first test was over the weekend against the Dodgers, and they passed with flying colors taking 2 out of 3. If the Cubs are going to do the same thing in this series they are going to need an outstanding pitching effort. They have been getting that lately, but they will be really tested in this series against the top run scoring team in the National League.
The Braves are led by the usual suspects in Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann, but are also getting solid production from Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. The Cubs should be able to take advantage of a Braves pitching staff that has been knocked around a bit this season. The Braves come into the series with a 4.41 ERA which ranks 14th in the National League. The Cubs haven’t lost a series since the April 20-22 series to the Reds, let’s keep that going, go Cubs!
Full preview/breakdown after the jump.