Saturday, September 21, 2013
Cubs put Braves' celebration on hold
By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- The best laid plans of pennant-bound teams must defer to certain detours along the way.
The Atlanta Braves with a magic number of one, were unable to hold on to a late lead, losing 3-1 to the Cubs. First baseman Anthony Rizzo drove in the go-ahead run in Chicago's three-run eighth inning.
"That is a great team and [Braves starter Kris] Medlen shut us down." Rizzo said. "To come back against a team that has a really good bullpen is impressive."
Atlanta, with a comfortable lead in the National League East, is more concerned about earning home-field advantage than when it clinches. For the Cubs, it was all about playing the spoiler role.
"That was nice to keep them [waiting] one more day," Cubs' manager Dale Sveum said. "It was nice not having to see [the clinching] in person."
The Braves were held to one run and five hits by three Chicago pitchers. Travis Wood gave up the one run on an Evan Gattis RBI single in the fourth inning. The Cubs' top pitcher threw his 24th quality start getting a no-decision in his seven-plus innings of work.
"I don't think any team looks forward to that happening," Wood said in reference to the Braves potentially clinching at Wrigley Field. "You know it is always exciting when someone does clinch. One day hopefully it will be us and we can move on from there."
The Cubs also were able to envision their closer of the future. Pedro Strop was sensational in his first save opportunity. The powerful right-hander struck out the side in the ninth to put the Braves' championship celebration on hold.
"He pitched efficiently, threw quality strikes, he had the whole gamut working," Sveum said. Usual closer Kevin Gregg had thrown 37 pitches on Friday. "It was nice to see him do it at home in front of a nice crowd. He did a great job."
Strop, who was traded to the Cubs by the Orioles in early July, converted his first save since May 18, 2012 against Washington.