CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Wright plunked four Cubs batters but still left with the lead after a last-minute call-up, Will Smith stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Atlanta Braves escaped with a bizarre 5-2 win Friday over Chicago.
Wright was recalled from the club’s alternate site to replace Drew Smyly, who was scratched and placed on the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation Friday morning. Wright hit four batters, including Javier Báez twice, but limited Chicago to two runs and three hits over 4 1/3 innings. He also doubled for his first career hit.
“I thought he did a great job,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “For the most part, he kept us in the game.”
Four relievers, including winner Josh Tomlin (2-0), kept the Cubs scoreless until Smith entered for the ninth. Atlanta’s closer walked the bases loaded with two outs before striking out Joc Pederson to cap his third save in three tries.
Willson Contreras homered off Wright as the Cubs lost their second straight and fifth of six. Contreras was one of three Cubs struck by Wright pitches Friday as the Cubs assumed the major league lead for hit batsmen with 13.
Chicago batters were hit a league-most 52 times last season.
Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t bowled over by Wright’s performance but was pleased to see the right-hander stay out of deep trouble.
“I loved the way he didn’t let the thing get out of hand,” he said. “He made big pitches and got big outs when we needed them.”
The Braves took the lead for good with a three-run fourth highlighted by Ronald Acuña Jr.’s two-run single. Marcell Ozuna added three hits and an RBI for Atlanta, which has won two straight since ending a four-game skid.
The first four runs came off Chicago starter Zach Davies (1-2), who was making his first outing since giving up five earned runs in fewer than two innings in an April 10 loss at Pittsburgh.
The Cubs began the day hitting a majors-worst .168 and ended it stranding a dozen runners.
“We just weren’t able to put the runs across again,” said bench coach Andy Green, who filled in for the suspended David Ross.
Ross served a one-game suspension handed down a day earlier by Major League Baseball. The manager, game-planning coach Mike Borzello and reliever Ryan Tepera were suspended and fined after Tepera threw behind Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff in a win Tuesday.
Tepera, given a three-game punishment, is appealing the ruling and remained on the active roster Friday. His throw came after Contreras was hit by a Brewers pitcher for the third time this season.
Ross said before the game he might watch from a box at the park or enjoy the game and pizza at home with his family. Borzello also served his one-game ban Friday.
Braves: Snitker hopes Smyly will only miss one start. ... OF Ender Inciarte left the game after suffering a left hamstring injury while running the bases in the fourth. … Ozzie Albies left in the top of the ninth after being struck by a pitch on the right calf by Cubs reliever Justin Steele. Snitker said both players were being evaluated after the game. ... Atlanta also recalled infielder Johan Camargo before the game to fill the open spot left after it optioned LHP Tucker Davidson to Gwinnett on Thursday.
Cubs: Ross said RHP Kyle Hendricks should be ready to start on Sunday. Hendricks was scratched from his start Tuesday after feeling ill, but a coronavirus test was negative. ... The club activated infielder Matt Duffy from the coronavirus-related injury list and returned infielder Ildemaro Vargas to its alternate site in South Bend, Indiana, before the game. Duffy had been on the list since Tuesday.
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