After rain showers, Flowers gives Braves win

July 8th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The Cubs and Braves had to wait to play a makeup game on Thursday night because of rain back in April. Chicago's bullpen was short-handed, and starter Kyle Hendricks was pressed into relief duty, so of course the game went extra innings. It's been that kind of stretch for the Cubs.

Tyler Flowers smacked an RBI single with two outs in the 11th inning and Nick Markakis hit two home runs, including a game-tying homer in the ninth, to lift the Braves to a 4-3 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs trailed, 2-0, in the eighth against Atlanta starter Lucas Harrell, who was lifted after he plunked Kris Bryant on the left knee with two outs. Hunter Cervenka then hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch, and Ben Zobrist followed with an RBI double. Rookie Willson Contreras lined a pitch off Jim Johnson into center for a triple, allowing Rizzo and Zobrist to score and the Cubs to go ahead, 3-2.

But Markakis, who hit a two-run homer in the first, tied the score with a leadoff shot in the Atlanta ninth off Hector Rondon. One out later things got a little tense, as Jeff Francoeur and Contreras exchanged words after an inside pitch by Rondon. Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown.

"I called a fastball in, and [Francoeur] didn't appreciate that," Contreras said. "After that he started talking to me, and I stood up in front of him. I care about my team. I tried to protect my pitcher."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wasn't upset, because he felt the Braves pitchers were just missing when they hit his players.

"I don't think anything was malicious on their part," Maddon said. "Francoeur took exception, which he shouldn't have."

Spencer Patton walked Freddie Freeman to open the Braves' 11th, and one out later, Freeman advanced on Adonis Garcia's single to second baseman Javier Baez. One out later, Flowers lined a single to right to score Freeman and hand the Cubs their seventh loss in the last eight games.

"I think it's just good to get a win, especially against a ballclub like that," Markakis said after the Braves secured a split of the six-game season series. "In a ballpark like this, it's tough to come in and win. Harrell gave us a great performance on the mound, and the bullpen came in and did a great job. It was just a great ballgame all the way around. I'm glad we came out on top."

The game was originally scheduled for April 30 and postponed because of inclement weather. Rain interfered this time as well, delaying the start of the game one hour and 35 minutes. Both teams were in different situations on April 30. Fredi Gonzalez was Atlanta's manager at that time, and the Cubs had yet to lose consecutive games.


Cabrera's save:Dario Alvarez, who has struck out 22 of the 40 batters he faced, recorded three strikeouts in a perfect 10th before surrendering consecutive singles to open the 11th. But with Arodys Vizcaino unavailable, the Braves turned to flamethrower Mauricio Cabrera, who got Addison Russell to hit into a double play and then used a changeup instead of his triple-digit fastball to end the game on Jeimer Candelario's flyout.

"Being able to find the zone in that situation with his stuff is a great sign of maturity for a young guy like that," Flowers said of Cabrera. "Then, even with the last pitch [changing] to a changeup right there, I thought that was pretty [brave] on his part. I liked it."

Multihomer rarity: Francoeur's leadoff double in the second inning gave the Braves three hits through their first six at-bats, but they did not record another until Markakis opened the ninth with his game-tying solo shot. Markakis entered the game with just two homers and two previous multihomer games, the most recent having been recorded for the Orioles on Sept. 14, 2008. More >

Eventful eighth: Harrell retired the first eight batters he faced and then became an adept escape artist after allowing the Cubs to put the leadoff hitter on base during each of his final four full innings. The 31-year-old right-hander kept a shutout bid alive as he retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth, but he ended his 113-pitch night by hitting Bryant with a 1-2 changeup. Cervenka then hit Rizzo with a 3-0 fastball, setting the stage for Zobrist's RBI double. Contreras' go-ahead triple off Johnson had the makings of a game-tying single before the ball bounced over Ender Inciarte's head in center field. Still, in sticking with Harrell into the eighth, Braves manager Brian Snitker showed he has gained quick confidence in the veteran hurler, who has impressed in two starts since getting an unexpected promotion from Triple-A Gwinnett.

"He followed up a good [start] with an even better one," Snitker said. "I just liked how he attacks the strike zone and keeps the ball down. I can't say enough about him. He's been really, really good and aggressive. I like that. He made some big pitches when he got in trouble."

Start him up: Hammel was eager to make amends after his previous outing, in which he served up a career-high five home runs to the Mets over four-plus innings. Markakis connected off him in the first, but Hammel then settled down. After he walked Gordon Beckham on four pitches to start the sixth, he was lifted because of cramping in his right hand. Travis Wood came in and retired two batters, and Hendricks, who was not expected to pitch until after the All-Star break, then took over and went two innings in his first career relief outing.

"Our bullpen was really kind of short," Maddon said. More >


"It was a tough game. We fought back and did the little things. We have to think about tomorrow now. This is in the past, it's over. We have to think about Pittsburgh." -- Contreras


Braves: Atlanta will remain in Chicago to begin a three-game series against the White Sox on Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET. The Braves will send Matt Wisler to the mound to match up against Chris Sale, who will be bidding for his 15th win. Wisler has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his past four starts.

Cubs: All-Star Jake Arrieta will make his final start of the first half on Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Pirates. Arrieta is 9-1 with a 1.46 ERA against the Pirates in his career. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

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