– MLB – Recap – Cubs at Braves

Productive day. Even without a dominating start from Smoltz, the Braves got runs off the sagging Cubs bullpen, six of them in the eighth inning. Andruw hit his 27th homer; Jeff Francoeur his first for his first hit.

While those players will be the story, the hero of the game was Marcus, who went 4-5, tripled off the top of the wall and Jeromy Burnitz’s glove to start the rally, singled in a run to finish it, and is now hitting .302. After Marcus’ triple, Andruw fell behind, then pulled the ball into the seats to give the Braves a 5-4 lead. After LaRoche singled, McCann sacrificed, but Aramis Ramirez tried to get the lead runner (stupid in this situation) and so both reached. Francoeur followed with a long AB, at the end of which he homered to center to blow the game open. Orr doubled, then the Cubs finally got two outs, but Marcus singled him home.

Furcal had two hits and a walk and hit a two-run homer in the fifth. Johnson also had two hits and a walk, and scored on LaRoche’s groundout in the fourth. The Braves had fourteen hits in all.

Smoltz didn’t have his best stuff, striking out only two and walking three, and allowing four runs including a two-run homer. He also may have sprained his toe slightly on defense, but seemingly was well enough to stay in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took the All-Star Game off, but he really wants to play in Detroit. John Foster pitched a perfect eighth to get the win, and Reitsma a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.

The Brewers now come in for three, all on Turner South. The Braves, suddenly, have a five game winning streak, are 2 1/2 down in the division, and 3 1/2 up on the Marlins for second and the wildcard.