The game predictably got off to a slow start offensively, as Ervin Santana and Jeff Samardzija traded scoreless innings in the early going, with Santana getting out of trouble in the 2nd after Starlin Castro got a leadoff double to start that frame off. He advanced to 3rd on a Luis Valbuena ground-out and got no further when Mike Olt grounded out to end the inning.
The skies then opened up in the 3rd inning, and we had to endure a rain delay that lasted one hour and eight minutes. Once the weather cleared, both pitchers returned and picked up right where they left off and continued to deal.
The bottom of the 4th produced an absolute adventure of a play for the Braves on defense. With Ryan Kalish on 1st base, Anthony Rizzo hit a liner to first. Jason Heyward tried to catch Kalish at 3rd with his strong arm, but Simmons realized that the throw probably wasn't going to get there in time, so he cut it off. This resulted in Rizzo getting caught in a lengthy rundown that ended with Justin Upton recording the out in physical fashion. The official record of the play? A 9-6-3-4-6-3-6-7 put-out. Funky. Santana then got Castro to fly out and after walking Luis Valbuena he struck out Wellington Castillo to end the weird inning.
The aftermath of that weird rundown wasn't all sunshine and lollipops, as Justin Upton walked away from it with a ginger back. Two scoreless innings later, Justin Upton would have to leave the game after getting hit in the back with a fastball. Justin was diagnosed with a lower back contusion and has been listed as "day-to-day," and Fredi Gonzalez told reporters post-game that Justin would not be playing tomorrow afternoon.
In the 7th inning, runs were finally scored, and this was in large part due to the exit of Jeff Samardzija (6 IP, 2 H, 7 Ks with only 69 pitches due to the rain delay) and the entrance of the Cubs bullpen, namely Brian Schlitter. A bloop single by Chris Johnson brought B.J. Upton to the plate. Melvin then proceeded to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the BABIP God over to 2nd base. After a single by Andrelton Simmons, Ryan Doumit picked an excellent time to collect his 2nd RBI of the season by hitting a double to left field to put the Braves up by one. Tyler Pastornicky then came up to bat and laid down a beautiful bunt to the pitcher's mound. Simmons was basically at home plate by the time Schlitter fielded the bunt, and the reliever had no choice but to throw out Pastornicky at first: A perfectly executed suicide squeeze.
Ervin Santana exited the game after the 7th with another good start under his belt (7 IP, 5 H, 7 Ks and only 1 BB), and the two runs were more than enough support for David Carpenter to hold the lead by striking out the side in the 8th and for Craig Kimbrel to redeem himself with a save in the 9th after last night's blown save. Kimbrel got 2 Ks in the 9th to earn his 8th save of the season and to seal the Braves' 3rd win out of 4.
The Braves are now 20-15, and will be looking to get a sweep (yes, an actual sweep; potentially 3 wins in a row!) tomorrow on Mother's Day afternoon with Aaron Harang taking the mound.
Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija must be cursing his luck, because this is yet another game where he pitched well enough for the Cubs to be in a position to win, only to have it go the other way. With that being said, nobody at this blog is complaining about the result.