ATLANTA -- A shaky eighth inning for the Cubs' bullpen with two bases-loaded walks saw nine Braves come to the plate in Chicago's 4-1 loss to Atlanta at SunTrust Park on Wednesday.With the score tied at 1, C.J. Edwards gave up a leadoff triple to Ozzie Albies to set the
ATLANTA -- A shaky eighth inning for the Cubs' bullpen with two bases-loaded walks saw nine Braves come to the plate in Chicago's 4-1 loss to Atlanta at SunTrust Park on Wednesday.
With the score tied at 1, C.J. Edwards gave up a leadoff triple to Ozzie Albies to set the stage for Ronald Acuna Jr.'s sharp go-ahead RBI single to left. After an intentional walk to Nick Markakis, Edwards issued a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Flowers to make it 3-1. Justin Hancock came in and delivered another bases-loaded walk to Johan Camargo.
Cubs righty Tyler Chatwood pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed just one run on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
"I felt strong, I felt like my mechanics were in synch," Chatwood said. "My stuff, I felt like everything was there, so it was good. I need to build on that."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that Freddie Freeman and Markakis, the lefties at the heart of Atlanta's batting order, were the motivating factors in taking Chatwood out of the game once Acuna reached on a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth. Brian Duensing walked Freeman, but the lefty then got Markakis to ground into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play.
"Had he gotten the first [two] guys, Albies and then Acuna out, he was gonna face Freeman," Maddon said. "But once there was somebody on base right there, that made it a little bit different."
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Freeman's RBI single. The Cubs tied it in the fifth on a Kristopher Bryant RBI single. Bryant went 3-for-4 with a double.
Unlike Tuesday night's win when the Cubs touched Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino for two runs, Chicago went down in order in the ninth.
The Cubs struck out 11 times in the loss, which Maddon attributed to chasing pitches out of the zone.
"I want us to maintain the good work that we've done to this point and not start opening it up a little bit," Maddon said. "That was our issue tonight. We're just out of our zones again, and in RBI situations we've got to force the pitch over the plate, you've got to find your pitch and move it, and we need to do a better job with that."
The run Chatwood allowed in the bottom of the first ended his nine-inning scoreless streak against the Braves, which dated back to July 24, 2016.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Albert Almora Jr. wasn't going to let Flowers get an extra-base hit in the bottom of the second as he tracked a deep drive and made a leaping catch at the top of the center-field wall. Statcast™ projected the ball's exit velocity at 106.4 mph. Since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015, seven out of 10 batted balls with that exit velocity and 22 degree launch angle have gone for home runs.
Jonathan Lester will take the mound in his ninth start of the season and fifth road start for Thursday's series finale in Atlanta. The Cubs have gone 6-2 in his previous eight starts. Mike Soroka will make his fourth career start for the Braves. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. CT.
Aimee Sachs is a contributor to MLB.com based in Atlanta.