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Braves unable to hold 6-1 lead, end up losing 9-7

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Errors, wild pitches, and passed balls ended up being the difference today, as the Braves were unable to keep a five-run lead and ended up dropping what should have been a win.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

After storming their way into a big lead, the Braves let what seemed like a commanding lead slip away. Three unearned runs ended up dooming Atlanta to defeat as the Cubs beat them 9-7 this afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Today’s rollercoaster ride of a baseball game was initially flying in favor of the Braves. Even though the Cubs got on the board first with a leadoff home run from Kyle Schwarber, the Braves seized control of the game from that point forward. Tyler Chatwood pitched as advertised, as he gave up four BBs and the first of those helped start a rally that eventually gave the Braves their first run of the game.

The next couple of innings were an example of how Atlanta’s offense has the potential to pile on the runs at any given moment. They got going in the third inning after Ronald Acuña Jr. got hit by a pitch, then went from first-to-home on a double from Dansby Swanson. Freddie Freeman immediately followed that up by hitting his 22nd home run of the season to make it 4-1 Braves at the time.

The Braves weren’t done there. In the next inning, Chatwood found himself in deep trouble after two walks and a wild pitch. The trouble only deepened for him and the Cubs as Dansby continued to contribute at the plate. This time, he slapped one up the middle for a single and just like that, the Braves were up 6-1. Bryse Wilson had seemingly found his footing after giving up that leadoff homer, and life was good.

Life was good for the Braves in this one until all of a sudden, it wasn’t. The Cubs started off the bottom of the fourth inning with a walk, double, and two singles. Then Tyler Flowers couldn’t corral a pitch that went in the dirt from Bryse Wilson, and the wild pitch brought in Chicago’s fourth run of the day. Fortunately, the Braves were able to exit that inning with the lead still intact, but there was still trouble afoot.

Bryse Wilson struck out Kyle Schwarber to start off the bottom of the fifth inning. Then Kris Bryant hit a shallow fly ball into center right feld. It was either going to be a catch by Acuña or a catch by Markakis. Markakis took control and the ball plopped into his glove — and then bounced out of it. That error ended up being a huge turning point in the game, as what should have been two outs and nobody on turned into one out and a runner in scoring position. Anthony Rizzo immediately brought Bryant home with a ground-rule double that somehow managed to land in fair territory and into the seats.

Bryse Wilson’s day may have ended there, but the pain didn’t stop for the Braves. Josh Tomlin came on with two outs, he gave up a triple to Jason Heyward. Rizzo scored, and the 6-1 lead that the Braves had not too long ago was now a tied ballgame at 6-6. The next batter was Victor Caratini, and he proceeded to send Wrigley Field into delirium with only his second homer of the season. That made it 8-6, and the Annual Atlanta Braves Wrigley Field Collapse was officially on.

Ozzie Albies led off the sixth inning to bring the Braves within one, but the Cubs immediately got that run back in the bottom half of the inning after Tyler Flowers surrendered a passed ball with two outs and a runner on third to make the score 9-7.

The Braves were unable to score in the eighth inning, which means that they were indeed the first team to greet Craig Kimbrel in his return to baseball as a closer for the Chicago Cubs. The first two outs of the ninth inning were vintage Craig Kimbrel. Then Ronald Acuña hit a ground-rule double of his own when the ball got stuck in the base of the ivy wall. Dansby Swanson walked on four pitches, and that set up what should have been a climactic clash between Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, Freeman swung at the first pitch, grounded to first, and Rizzo beat him to the bag to end the game and give the Cubs a win.

It’s definitely disappointing that the Braves were unable to hold down a five-run lead — even if it’s the Chicago Cubs who were on the other side of things. With that being said, the Braves still did pretty well for themselves for a four-game series at Wrigley Field. They’ll be leaving town with a split and a 5-2 season record against the Cubs and now they will be looking to bounce back with a win against the Mets tomorrow night.