Cubs’ loss to Braves does little to dampen their mood
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Colorful ‘‘off color’’ suits, mandated by manager Joe Maddon for the road trip to Pittsburgh, had most of the Cubs smiling Sunday, even after their four-game winning streak came to an end.
Sport coats colored in red, white and blue and camouflage ensembles are part of the manager’s ‘‘keep it fun’’ approach to a long season.
It never takes away from the serious part of the game, nor how his team continues to keep opponents on edge even if they have a lead.
The Atlanta Braves earned a 4-3 victory in 10 innings, but it took that long because their 3-0 lead vanished in the eighth and ninth.
‘‘We go into every game with a good feeling,’’ said Matt Szczur, who scored the Cubs’ first run after reaching on a bunt as a pinch hitter with one out in the eighth. ‘‘Our lineup is pretty stacked. Anyone can hit a homer, even in the wind. So the job is to get on base and put it together.’’
The Cubs had only two hits off Braves starter Julio Teheran through seven. But their bats woke up against Jim Johnson (two runs, two hits in 1/3 of an inning) and Arodys Vizcaino (one unearned run, two hits).
Vizcaino was the unlikely winner despite allowing the tying run in the ninth. After walking Ben Zobrist, Vizcaino threw wildly on a pick-off attempt, allowing Zobrist to reach third. He scored on Addison Russell’s two-strike single past a drawn in infield.
Russell’s error fielding a hard-hit ground ball from Adonis Garcia in the sixth led to one of the two runs the Braves scored in the inning.
‘‘It was hard hit, but no excuses,’’ Russell said. ‘‘I should make that play. Luckily, we got a double play after that. When you have guys who keep battling, that picked me up. That’s a cool thing to see.’’
Starter John Lackey was a different pitcher than the one who gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings his last time out.
He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when a leadoff double by Kelly Johnson turned into the first run. Lackey gave up only two more hits through eight innings, a season high for him and his longest outing since Aug. 15, 2015.
He struck out only two, his fewest since May 23, but in raw conditions, ‘‘I was definitely pitching to contact,’’ he said.‘‘Go ahead and try to hit it.
‘‘With a young team like that that likes to swing, you don’t get to many two-strike counts.’’
The Braves tallied the winning run in the 10th off Hector Rondon. Jason Grilli earned his second save.
‘‘But we did a lot of things well,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘We did one wrong thing [Russell’s error], but that’s a tough ball for Addie. We hit some balls without luck, but I like how we fought back. And give [the Braves] credit for coming back, too.’’
The loss meant May started differently than the winning month of April.
‘‘I’d love to keep doing that every month,’’ Maddon said of winning 17 games in April. ‘‘To sustain all those components would be great. The offense has been based on good at-bats, but you haven’t seen knocking the cover off the ball yet.’’
‘‘I’ve always said we have to win ‘today,’ ’’ Szczur said. ‘‘If we can make that happen, we’ll be in good shape.’’