Published November 20, 2014
Atlanta last lost a series from August 12-14 versus the Cubs at Turner Field and has won the first two portions of this set. In Tuesday's 5-4 win, the Braves put up a five spot in the fourth inning and held on for their sixth consecutive victory.
Jason Heyward had a big night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a grand slam, while Chipper Jones registered three hits and a run scored for Atlanta, which is still 6 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the NL East lead and has won 15 of its last 19 games. Atlanta leads the NL Wild Card by 9 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco.
Braves starter Mike Minor gave up four runs -- three earned -- in five innings for the win and the bullpen held the Cubs to four hits the rest of the way. Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth for his 40th save, matching the major league rookie record set by Texas' Neftali Feliz last year.
"I really feel like our bullpen was huge tonight. That will relieve a lot of pressure from us as hitters," said Heyward.
Atlanta will visit the New York Mets for three games after this series and hopes Derek Lowe can pitch the club to another series triumph tonight. Lowe is 8-11 with a 4.73 ERA in 27 starts and has won two of three trips to the hill following a three-start losing streak. Lowe needed just five shutout innings and seven K's to defeat Arizona in Friday's 4-2 decision.
The right-hander is 5-8 in 16 road starts this season and recently lost to the Cubs on Aug. 13 in an 8-4 setback at Turner Field. Lowe was reached for five runs and 10 hits over six innings in that one, falling to 3-2 in 11 career starts against the Cubs.
Chicago has lost three in a row and five of its last seven games, and received a rough outing from starter Casey Coleman. Coleman gave up five runs and five hits in five innings of work to fall to 2-6 on the season. He was doomed by a five-run fourth inning and Heyward's grand slam.
"Tonight I felt like I had better stuff than I've had in a while," said Coleman, who made his second start since Carlos Zambrano was placed on the disqualified list. "You gotta take the positives out of it. It's been a rough year, but I've still got a month left, so I gotta take the positives out of everything."
Aramis Ramirez went a career-high 5-for-5 with a double and two RBI to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He has five career hitting streaks of 11 or more games and his current stretch is his longest since an 18-game run from Sept. 23, 2006-April 20, 2007.
Alfonso Soriano homered in the loss for Chicago, which is 2-3 on a seven-game homestand.
Randy Wells will take the hill for the Cubs tonight and owns a 4-4 record with a 5.84 earned run average in 16 starts. He has won three of his previous four decisions and did not factor into the outcome of Friday's 5-4 win over St. Louis, as he yielded four runs in seven innings. Wells countered Lowe in that aforementioned Cubs win over the Braves and tossed five innings of two-run ball for the victory.
Wells, a right-hander, is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against Atlanta. He hopes to get some run support since Chicago has left 24 men on base over the first two installments of this series.
Chicago recently won two of three meetings in Atlanta from Aug. 12-14.