CHICAGO -- On two occasions, a timely two-run homer provided the Cubs with a lead Monday vs. the Braves. But both times, Jose Quintana's inability to keep the ball in the ballpark proved costly.Albert Almora Jr. and Kristopher Bryant each homered, but on a day when home runs accounted for
CHICAGO -- On two occasions, a timely two-run homer provided the Cubs with a lead Monday vs. the Braves. But both times, Jose Quintana's inability to keep the ball in the ballpark proved costly.
Albert Almora Jr. and Kristopher Bryant each homered, but on a day when home runs accounted for all the scoring until the ninth inning, the three blasts that Quintana surrendered were the difference in the Cubs' 6-5 loss at Wrigley Field. The game was played to make up for a rainout on April 15 that fell on Jackie Robinson Day.
• Cubs, Braves honor Jackie before makeup
Quintana gave up six runs on the three homers -- including a prodigious go-ahead three-run blast to Jose Bautista in the fifth inning -- in the Cubs' second straight loss following five straight wins. Quintana gave up nine hits, struck out six and walked three in 4 2/3 innings.
"I'm really [ticked] off," Quintana said of giving up the home run to Bautista.
Trailing by two runs in the ninth inning, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out. Victor Caratini singled and advanced to second on a passed ball before Kyle Schwarber walked and Almora singled. After striking out pinch-hitter David Bote, Braves reliever A.J. Minter hit Ian Happ to get the Cubs to within a run. But with the bases still loaded, Minter got Bryant to fly out to end the game.
"We easily could have been, 'Whatever -- we'll get them in Atlanta,'" Almora said. "They're up by two, they've got [Minter] going -- we could have easily given up there. But we fight and we keep fighting."
Bautista's monster shot into the left-field bleachers came after Bryant's two-run homer -- and fourth long ball of the homestand -- gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead. Almora also delivered a two-run shot in the second inning that put the Cubs on top, 2-1.
The deciding blow was Bautista's first at Wrigley Field. It proved to be a big one.
"Anytime you can do something positive for the team -- especially if it's a game-winning hit -- you're going to enjoy it," Bautista said. "I'm glad I got it done."
Almora's homer momentarily put the Cubs on top after Quintana gave up a solo shot to Ozzie Albies to lead off the game. Quintana's short outing forced the Cubs' bullpen to log long innings, but five Cubs relievers finished off the game without giving up any further damage. Both Quintana and manager Joe Maddon acknowledged that the left-hander has to be better.
"To this point, Q just hasn't been on top of his game with his command," Maddon said.
Added Quintana: "It's really frustrating."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Inciarte snuffs out rally: Trailing, 6-4, in the sixth inning, Benjamin Zobrist singled with one out. When Javier Baez lifted a fly ball to center field, Zobrist broke immediately for second, but Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte made a tremendous 5-star catch before doubling off Zobrist, who was unable to get back to first base.
"The guy made a great catch," Maddon said. "I think [Zobrist] was confused whether it hit [the grass] or not. … But again, that's a great play."
HE SAID IT
""Today we made a lot of mistakes -- I consider them more mental than physical ... just a mentally lethargic game early on."
-- Maddon, on the fielding and baserunning miscues that proved costly
Right-hander Yu Darvish will open a three-game series against the Braves in Atlanta on Tuesday in his first start since being placed on the 10-day disabled list with the flu. Darvish will make his first start since May 2, when he allowed six runs (five earned) in just 4 1/3 innings against the Rockies. Darvish will face the Braves' Mike Foltynewicz and first pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. CT.
Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.