ATLANTA (AP)—Lance Cormier never expected to strike out so many batters.
Cormier pitched seven solid innings and struck out a career-high 10, and Brian McCann doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth to help the Atlanta Braves beat Chicago 2-1 on Sunday, the Cubs’ ninth straight road loss.
“It was weird. I’m definitely not a strikeout guy,” Cormier said. “The cutter got me most of my strikeouts.”
The Braves, who have won the first three games of the four-game set, began the day five games behind NL wild-card leader San Diego.
Atlanta is 6-0 against the Cubs this season. Going back even further, the Braves have won 12 of 13 against Chicago, which hasn’t won at Turner Field since April 11, 2004, dropping six in a row.
In addition, it was Chicago’s fourth straight loss overall. The Cubs have dropped 18 of 21.
Cormier (3-4) allowed eight hits and didn’t walk anyone. The only run off the right-hander came on a homer by Freddie Bynum leading off the sixth.
“The cutter wasn’t perfect,” Cormier said. “Freddie Bynum figured it out, but overall it was a good cutter day.”
Cormier also matched his career best with the seven innings pitched and got his first major league hit, a single in the fifth. He had been 0-for-7.
“It was definitely my best as far as strikeouts go, but I pitched pretty good last week against Philadelphia, too,” Cormier said.
Against the Phillies, he allowed only three hits and one run in seven innings, but got a no-decision in Atlanta’s 3-1 victory.
This time, Cormier came away with a victory.
“He had some good stuff. He spotted his pitches well and kept us off balance,” Bynum said.
Braves pitchers struck out 15 overall.
Adam LaRoche doubled with two outs in the sixth. McCann, who struck out in his two previous at-bats, followed with his run-scoring double to left-center off Mateo.
“I was thinking, just don’t strike out a third time. I went back to the basics and hit the ball the other way. That’s the key to hitting in the majors,” said McCann, who is batting .332.
He also had his left hand wrapped after getting hit on his glove hand when Mateo struck out in the fifth.
“It’s just a bruise,” McCann said.
X-rays were negative and he isn’t expected to miss any time.
Mateo went six innings. The right-hander gave up five hits, walked two and struck out six.
“He threw a great game. He threw only one bad pitch. That was the slider he threw to McCann,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
“Pierre was a tough guy all day and tough to strike out. I was not thinking strikeout. I threw a couple of pitches away and he swung, and got him on a cutter inside,” Cormier said.
Cormier’s previous career high for strikeouts was six at Florida on Aug. 20. Cormier surpassed that in the third inning when he fanned Mateo, his fourth straight strikeout. … Braves SS Edgar Renteria started and batted third. He didn’t play Saturday night because of a fever. … Pierre singled in the first and third, giving him a league-leading 178 hits. … Francoeur has started all 142 games this season.