Before the Braves and the Cubs had even finished their game on Sunday, Atlanta had clinched the National League East, thanks to a Washington Nationals‘ loss earlier in the afternoon. Nevertheless, a strong start by Julio Teheran and a dominant performance by Freddie Freeman led the Braves to a series win with a 5-2 victory.
With two men on and one out in the bottom of the ninth against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, Chicago had a chance to make a run, with the tying-run at the dish in the form of Brian Bogusevic. However, the Atlanta right-hander set down Bogusevic and followed by a punch out of Junior Lake to seal the deal.
Apart from a Dioner Navarro RBI single in the first inning, Teheran was near-untouchable for Cubs’ hitters, scattering just four hits across six innings of work while notching seven strikeouts. The young right-hander has emerged as a key member of the Atlanta rotation this season.
On the offensive side of things, Freddie Freeman was dominant, clubbing a crucial two-run home run off Cubs starter Edwin Jackson in the top of the first inning which gave Atlanta a lead it would not relinquish. The Atlanta first baseman ended the afternoon with a trio of base hits in the winning effort. Defensive guru Andrelton Simmons clubbed two homers of his own off Cubs pitching, as well.
The Cubs struggled to find any type of rhythm offensively, managing just the four hits in the first six innings against Teheran. The Atlanta bullpen, which came in post-celebration in the dugout over the division title, was masterful, as well, continuing the strong work Teheran turned in on the afternoon.
The only time the Cubs offense managed to show any type of sync was in the bottom of the eighth, when potential existed for a big inning. However, Dale Sveum‘s crew settled for a lone run against the Atlanta pen.
The Braves offense tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning, but it proved to be for nothing, as the Cubs offense remained stagnant for the remainder of the afternoon.
Jackson turned in a solid final home start of 2013, tossing six innings, allowing three runs. He was roughed up, however, in terms of power – allowing a pair of home runs to Atlanta hitters.
The Cubs open a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who remain in the midst of a tight race determining National League playoff spots, on Monday at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT and Jeff Samardzija will look to correct his recent struggles in his final home start.