Out of the three hits Jason Heyward tallied Tuesday, his first one in the fourth inning happened to go over the fence for his first career grand slam. The homer was the difference as the Atlanta Braves sneaked a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.
The top of the fourth saw the Braves utilize a two-out rally in its purist form. After Martin Prado and Brian McCann were retired, Dan Uggla reached on an infield hit, Chipper Jones singled and Eric Hinske walked. Alex Gonzalez then did the unthinkable by drawing just his 17th walk of the year on a full count. Heyward then stayed back on a 1-2 curveball and drove it out of the park to left-center.
"I definitely understand I’m not going to be in there every day," Heyward said. "I’ve just got to make the most of it."
The Cubs would answer in the bottom of the fifth when Alfonso Soriano led off with a solo home run to break Atlanta's streak of holding opponents scoreless for 30 straight innings, their longest such streak since 1992 when they threw 36 straight shutout innings.
Braves starter Mike Minor then hit Geovany Soto with the next pitch he threw, which was followed by Darwin Barney continuing his hot streak against the Braves with a hit. Both runners tagged up and advanced on a flyball Starlin Castro hit to Heyward, which was followed by a two-run double by Aramis Ramirez for one of his career high five hits. Ramirez would then score on the next pitch when Jeff Baker grounded to Gonzalez, who short hopped Eric Hinske with the throw for Atlanta's second error of the game.
Craig Kimbrel entered the ninth one shy of Neftali Feliz's major league rookie record of 39 saves. He started by fanning Castro and and getting Reed Johnson to ground out. Ramirez then blooped his fifth hit of the game to right which Heyward booted to allow him to take second base. The error was Atlanta's third of the game after going seven games with no errors.
"I’m glad that’s all he did was hit a bloop," Kimbrel said. "Because he could have done a lot more with that pitch. It definitely wasn’t where I wanted it to be."
Kimbrel, who is known for his fastball, finished the game by striking out Tyler Colvin on three straight sliders for his 40th save.
"To listen to guys on other teams talk about our guys at the end of the bullpen, it’s really amazing," Jones said.
The Braves remain 6.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the NL East, but they have taken a comfortable 9.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card.
Atlanta will look to Derek Lowe (8-11, 4.73 ERA) to face Chicago's Randy Wells (4-4, 5.84 ERA) at 8:05 EDT Wednesday.Tags: Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward, Mike Minor, MLB