Lackey pitches Cubs past Braves 2-0
CHICAGO — Asked about the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field, John Lackey smiled. It was one of those seen-it-all grins that arrive after years in the majors.
“If it’s blowing in here, yeah, you use it,” he said.
He used it quite well on Friday.
Lackey pitched seven crisp innings, Javier Baez's daring baserunning paid off again and the Chicago Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves 2-0 for their fifth straight win.
Lackey (11-10) allowed three hits, struck out five and walked none while improving to 6-1 with a 3.83 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. The 38-year-old right-hander retired his last 16 batters after a second-inning single by Dansby Swanson.
"We were locating the ball pretty good," Lackey said. "Tried to play the elements a little bit. Had the wind blowing in, which was nice. Doesn't happen all the time around here, so it was a good day to pitch."
Anthony Rizzo added two more hits as NL Central-leading Chicago won for the 11th time in its last 14 games. The big first baseman hit .355 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in August, powering the Cubs to a 17-12 record and a major league-best 191 runs for the month.
Atlanta lost for the fifth time in seven games, wasting a solid start by Mike Foltynewicz (10-11). The right-hander, who is from the Chicago area, allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings in his fifth consecutive loss.
"Coming to Cubs territory, where 90 percent of my friends and family were Cubs fans ... it's just a fun time coming home," Foltynewicz said.
The Cubs grabbed the lead for good on another exciting trip around the bases for Baez.
The athletic infielder reached on a leadoff walk in the third and advanced on Lackey's sacrifice. After Ben Zobrist flied out to center, Kyle Schwarber hit a dribbler up the third-base line. Foltynewicz slid to get to the ball and made a strong throw to first, but Schwarber beat it out for an infield hit.
Running all the way, Baez tried for home and slid in safely ahead of catcher Kurt Suzuki's tag attempt. Baez stole home in Wednesday night's 17-3 victory over Pittsburgh, and he also made a perfect slide when he scored the winning run in a 6-5 victory against Toronto on Aug. 20.
"He sees things that mostly these other guys don't see in advance of the moment," manager Joe Maddon said. "He just has that quickness about his mind when it comes to a lot of things on the field."
Rizzo doubled and scored on Ian Happ's single in the fourth, and that was more than enough for Lackey and three relievers. Pedro Strop and Brian Duensing worked the eighth before Wade Davis finished the four-hitter for his 28th save in 28 chances.
The Braves put together their best scoring opportunity in the first. Ender Inciarte hit a leadoff single and advanced on a wild pitch, but Lackey struck out Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp to end the inning.
Lackey "got tougher as we went and his breaking ball was a better pitch for him," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "Just couldn't get anything going."
The Cubs recalled catcher Victor Caratini and selected the contracts of infielder Mike Freeman and right-hander Dillon Maples from Triple-A Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handers Seth Frankoff and Jose Rosario were designated for assignment.
Justin Grimm was activated from the 10-day DL. Grimm had been sidelined by an infection in his right index finger.