On to Flushing.
For what it’s worth, Tyler Flowers is better than AJP defensively. At the plate there’s not much to choose. Nine up, nine down for Lackey, but Julio keeps Chicago off the board, posting an identical string of zeroes. In the fourth Nick Markakis walks, ending Lackey’s perfect game, but the Cub pitcher’s still got his no hitter working going into the fifth.
Kelly Johnson doubles to end that, and Flowers moves him to third for Jace. Peterson hits a sacrifice fly to right, Jason Heyward makes a great but futile throw, and Kelly scores. Even $180 million doesn’t buy perfection. One-zip, Braves.
Julio climbs the hill with the lead in the fifth and takes it to the dugout when he leaves. Julio’s pitching a weather-aided beauty. He leads one-zip as the game goes official. A little insurance wouldn’t hurt.
Ask and it will be given unto you. Mallex Smith rips a single through the box, Nick the Greek walks again; and against all odds Erick Aybar successfully sacrifices to move the runners up. Lackey and the Cubs walk Freddie Freeman to set up the double play — wouldn’t you? — and Adonis Garcia obliges, grounding a room service bouncer to Addison Russell.
Russell kicks it. A run scores, and the bases are still drunk for KJ. KJ grounds to Ben Zobrist, who charges Adonis. Adonis avoids the tag, so Ben Zobrist goes to first. The force is no longer in effect, and a run scores even though Garcia eventually gets pickled to end the inning. Braves are rolling, 3-0.
Great game for Julio the Magnificent, who throws seven strong and surrenders only two hits, a walk, a hit batter and strikes out nine. This was likely the best outing by any Braves starter this year, but it doesn’t get Julio his first win.
Jim Johnson’s got the eighth. He renders a bunt single to Szczur, Matt not Julius; and Dexter Fowler rips a double. With no outs and runners at second and third, Fredi brings in Hunter Cervenka to face JayHey.
(FWIW: Flowers still tops AJP defensively.)
Heyward grounds out for the fourth time today but gets an RBI and moves Fowler to third. Arodys Vizcaino comes in to attempt the four-out save. Kris Bryant singles to close the gap to 3-2, but Anthony Rizzo fans to quell the uprising.
Braves threaten mildly but to no avail. Cubs by rule get 27 outs. Arodys has the lead, but it’s skinny. Zobrist walks, Tommy La Stella strikes out, and Vizcaino self-destructs, chunking a pickoff attempt down the line and allowing Zobrist to carry the tying run to third. Addison Russell ties the game with a single, and the Braves still need two outs to get to extra innings. The bullpen coughed it up, and Julio’s win is gone.
The Braves escape. In the tenth the perfection that is Hector Rondon takes the bump. FWIW, their Hector’s better than ours. Jace is blown away, but Daniel Castro singles to right. Hitting fool Mallex perfectly places a hit and run single, moving Danny to third. Smith had three hits on the day, two singles and a hammered double that would have been a triple had the call at third gone for the Braves. Mallex Smith is no longer overmatched by big league pitching, so how about letting the boy play against everybody, Fredi?
Runners on the corners, one out, Markakis at the plate: if the Braves played to win, it’s what they’d want. It’s definitely what I want.
Nick delivers! Sacrifice fly to left, and the Braves lead 4-3. Fire up the Grilli.
Jason’s got the top of the Cubs order, so getting three outs is going to be an adventure. He tries to walk Fowler, who grounds to Castro. Heyward’s up. JayHey fans! Two gone, and Kris Bryant’s up. Bryant thinks he walks, then does. Anthony Rizzo carries the winning run to the plate for Chicago.
Can of corn to Jeffy in left; and woo-hoo! Braves win! One in a row! Bring on the Mutts!