CHICAGO -- The Cubs lost 10-7 to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday in the first-half finale. Here’s a quick look at the game.
How it happened: Like Edwin Jackson on Saturday, Travis Wood didn’t fool the Braves much as they scored seven times in the first three innings. Gerald Laird's two-run double in the second got the Braves rolling but Chris Johnson's third home run in two days, a three-run shot in the third, put the game away. Arismendy Alcantara hit his first career home run in the sixth but the Braves put up three more in the seventh with a bases-loaded, three-run double by Tommy La Stella. Chris Coghlan countered with a two-run home run in the seventh and then a bases loaded walk to Ryan Sweeney and a two-run double by John Baker in the eighth brought the Cubs within three, but that’s as close as they would come. Wood lasted six innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits and three walks.
What it means: Alcantara had two more extra base-hits to give him five in five games. He took an 0-2 pitch out to right and the Cubs had done little off Braves starter Julio Teheran to that point. His power is astonishing given his size as Alcantara has earned every right to remain in the major leagues after the All-Star break. This could be the beginning of a special career for the Cubs.
Coghlan has also earned more playing time as he finished the first half as hot as anyone in the league. The former Rookie of the Year has raised his batting average from .204 on June 30 to .277 at the All-Star break. Without other outfield prospects pushing him, Coghlan should get a lot of playing time in the second half.
Wood, who in 2013 was an All-Star, finished this year's first half with an ERA a tick under 5.00 (4.96). He’s simply leaving too many balls over the plate and getting hammered for it. Wood and Jackson need turnaround second halves as the Cubs' starting staff has been thinned by the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
First half over: The Cubs hit the All-Star break with a 40-54 record after going 42-51 last year in the first half. Anthony Rizzo leads them in home runs with 20 while Starlin Castro has 52 RBIs while batting mostly cleanup.
What’s next: Castro and Rizzo leave for Tuesday's All-Star Game while the rest of the team is off until Friday when they begin the second half in Arizona. Before Sunday’s game manager Rick Renteria set his rotation for that series against the Diamondbacks with Jackson, Wood and Jake Arrieta starting over the weekend.