ATLANTA (AP) - A breakout game by the Chicago Cubs’ hitters provided the perfect setting for Adbert Alzolay’s longest start of his young career.
Jason Heyward drove in two runs with two hits and the Cubs emerged from their hitting slump to beat the Atlanta Braves 9-3 on Thursday night, ending their five-game losing streak.
The Cubs had 16 hits, topping their combined total of 13 in the first three games of the series. Jake Marisnick hit a homer in the seventh and every Chicago starter had at least one hit.
Alzolay (1-2) allowed two runs on four hits and had six strikeouts in six innings. It was the longest of 10 career starts for the right-hander.
“We haven’t been as good as everyone expected as starting pitchers but tonight I felt it was good for the team that I went out there and I gave the team six innings,” Alzolay said.
Cubs manager David Ross said the big night from his hitters made it easier to trust Alzolay for the sixth inning.
“It was nice, especially letting him work through that last inning, when you have some run support and some cushion there,” Ross said.
Matt Duffy, hitting third, reached base four times on two hits and two walks. He scored two runs and drove in a run.
“I honestly just feel like I’ve got to find a way to get on base,” Duffy said. “If I can do that often with those guys around me, I feel like good things are going to happen.”
Following 5-0 and 10-0 losses the previous two nights, Chicago found its offense and avoided a four-game sweep. The Cubs ended a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings with two runs in the first.
Kris Bryant had a run-scoring single in the first. Duffy, who singled, scored from third on a balk by Bryse Wilson (1-2). Anthony Rizzo had three hits.
Wilson, pitching on three days rest, gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks in three innings.
Marcell Ozuna led off the sixth by lining a homer 479 feet over the Cubs’ bullpen behind the left-field wall.
Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in a run with a seventh-inning single off Ryan Tepera. With left-hander Andrew Chafin on the mound, Freddie Freeman hit into a double play to end the inning.
Cubs: Cubs shortstop Javier Báez had a triple off the right-field wall in the fifth and drove in a run in his return after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Báez showed he was healthy by making it to third base on the triple without a slide. His sacrifice fly in the third drove in Bryant, who doubled.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (right hamstring strain) threw to hitters before batting practice. Fried showed no sign of the injury while throwing from the mound, fielding bunts and covering first base. He could come off the injured list early next week. Manager Brian Snitker was encouraged, saying Fried “was really good. I thought his stuff was real crisp, command was real good.”
Cubs RHP Brandon Workman, who had a 6.75 ERA in 10 games, was designated for assignment before the game. LHP Justin Steele was recalled from the team’s alternate training site.
Ross said Workman “is not in a place to perform the way he and we want him to perform. … That’s the worst part of this job, as a friend, a teammate, someone I have a ton of respect for and the way that he works and the effort he gave.”
Alzolay’s second-inning single to right field was his first career hit. While standing on first base, he motioned to the Chicago dugout to make sure the milestone baseball was saved.
“It was a special moment for me,” he said. “At this point I don’t know how I hit the ball but I’ll take it.”
RILEY ON A ROLL
Austin Riley drove in the Braves‘ first run with a fourth-inning single. He had two hits to raise his batting average to .301. He is hitting .483 (14 for 29) in his last 10 games.
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.57) is the scheduled starter when Chicago’s seven-game road trip continues with the opener of a three-game series at Cincinnati on Friday night.
Braves: LHP Drew Smyly (0-1, 7.20) will make his fourth start of the season when Atlanta opens a three-game series against Toronto in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday night.
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