Jason Heyward hit his first career grand slam and the Braves then held on to defeat the Cubs 5-4 in Chicago Tuesday night. Rookie Mike Minor(4-2) got the win going 5 innings and allowing 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), no walks with 6 Ks to bring his ERA to 4.37.
The scoring began for the Braves in the 4th with a 2 out rally. Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones hit back to back singles to put runners at 1st and 3rd. Eric Hinske (playing first base to give Freddie Freeman the night off) walked to load the bases. Then, wonder of wonders, Alex (I swing at anything) Gonzalez(43 RBIs) actually drew a walk to force in the first run. Then Heyward(13 HR, 35 RBIs) stepped up and smacked his grand slam to dead center to make it 5-0.
In the fifth, Minor allowed a lead off homer to Alfonso Soriano. He then hit Soto with a pitch and allowed a single to PH Darwin Barney. The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on a fly out by Castro. Minor struck Johnson out for the second out. The Cubs’ hottest hitter, Aramis Ramirez, was up with 2 outs and runners at 2nd and 3rd. At this point, he was 3 for 3 after having gone 3 for 4 last night. With first base open, I say we intentionally walk Ramirez here and take our chances with the next guy. But Fredi Gonzalez decides to let Minor pitch to him and Ramirez hits a double scoring two. The next guy hits a ground out to Gonzalez but he short hops the throw to Hinske at first for an error allowing another run to score to make it 5-4.
Cristhian Martinez pitched a scoreless 6th. He came back out in the seventh and allowed back to back 1 out singles putting runners at 1st and 3rd. George Sherrill came on and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases. Then he struck out Carlos Pena. Rookie Arodys Vizcaino came on and threw one pitch to retire Marlon Byrd on a ground out to end the inning. In the eighth, Vizcaino got the Cubs 3 up, 3 down. Closer Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth to pick up his 4oth save (ties a record with Neftali Feliz for most saves by a rookie, set last year).
Michael Bourn stole 2 bases to bring his season total to 47. Both Heyward and Chipper went 3-4 at the plate. Chipper has raised his average to .282. Martin Prado made a nice diving catch on the run in left field. Aramis Ramirez went 5-5 for the Cubs. Let’s pitch around him tonight please.
Standings: The Braves(78-52) are 6 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. We are the wild card leader by 9 1/2 games over the Giants and by 11 games over the Cardinals.
Tonight’s Game: RH Derek Lowe(8-11) vs Cubs RH Randy Wells at 8:05 on Peachtree TV.
Injury Update: Bad news for Tommy Hanson. His bullpen session was cut short due to more shoulder discomfort. The hope that he could make a rehab start on Saturday is now on the back burner and they have no time table for his return. He’ll receive more treatment and rest and is listed as “day-to-day”(aren’t we all?).
Jose Constanza has a mild right ankle sprain that is not too bad. He could possibly play tonight.
Around the League: Former Brave Kelly Johnson was traded from the D-Backs to the Blue Jays. The Phillies called former Brave Pete Orr back up from the minors. The Giants placed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez on the 15 day DL( for the ankle he sprained in the Braves series) and recalled Carlos Beltran from the 15 day DL. The Giants also claimed Padres reliever Heath Bell off waivers. I’m not sure what that means–is Brian Wilson more seriously injured than first thought? Or were the Giants just blocking someone else from picking up Bell?
The Georgia little leaguers lost to Pennsylvania last night and were eliminated in the LLWS (tear).