Chicago at Atlanta

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Chicago (12-24)000200000290
Atlanta (21-15) «02010020x570

Gattis, Heyward power Braves to sweep of Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Aaron Harang realizes his struggles in 2013 were a sign to some that he no longer could be a winning pitcher.

Through eight starts in 2014, Harang is proving he's still on top of his game.

Two days after his 36th birthday, Harang pitched six strong innings and, backed by home runs from Evan Gattis and Jason Heyward, led the Atlanta Braves to a 5-2 win and a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Harang (4-3) gave up two runs on six hits and two walks. He had nine strikeouts. He is one win shy of matching his total in 26 starts combined with Seattle and the Mets last year, and he's savoring his career revival.

"It means a lot, just to get back out here and prove that I can still do this," Harang said. "I know there were probably a lot of people questioning that after last year. I've been pitching well and guys are playing well behind me and we're battling through games. It's been a lot of fun. I've just got to keep it going."

Harang, who was 5-12 with a career-worst 5.40 ERA last year, has a 2.98 ERA this season. The right-hander has allowed more than two earned runs in only one of his eight starts -- nine runs in a 9-3 loss at Miami on April 30.

Ryan Kalish, Chris Coghlan and Welington Castillo each struck out twice against Harang. Overall, the Cubs finished with 14 strikeouts.

"They have a young, aggressive team over there and I think I was able to take a little advantage of that, knowing how aggressive they are," Harang said.

Gattis gave Atlanta a 3-2 lead with his homer off Edwin Jackson in the fourth inning. Heyward added to the lead with his first home run since April 9, a two-run drive off James Russell in the seventh that landed in the Braves' bullpen beyond the right-field wall.

"It felt like it was longer than that," Heyward said of his power drought.

"I keep on showing up every day and trying to put up good at-bats and find good pitches to hit. If you try and do too much, that's when you start to compound things."

Jackson (2-3) allowed three runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.

"The two balls I got hurt on were balls up and over the middle," he said. "Balls that should be hit. I've just got to do a better job of getting ahead in the count and working down."

David Carpenter pitched the ninth for his second save. B.J. Upton made a sliding catch of Kalish's short fly in center field to end it.

Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel was rested after pitching two straight days.

The NL East-leading Braves have recovered from seven straight losses by winning four of five. The Cubs, last in the NL Central, have dropped seven of eight.

Ryan Doumit had a run-scoring single and Andrelton Simmons drove in a run with a double to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the second.

The Cubs tied it in the fourth on Nate Schierholtz's two-run double.

The Braves quickly reclaimed the lead when Gattis hit his eighth homer over the 380-foot sign in left field.

Dan Uggla was hit by a pitch from Russell as a pinch-hitter to lead off the seventh. Uggla scored on Heyward's third homer.

NOTES: Jackson, who grew up in Georgia and lives in Atlanta, is 0-3 in eight career games, including six starts, against the Braves. ... Braves LF Justin Upton was held out after he sustained a bruised lower back muscle when he was hit by a pitch from Jeff Samardzija on Saturday night. Justin Upton said he hopes to play Monday in San Francisco. ... Atlanta 2B Tyler Pastornicky made his second consecutive start and was 0 for 4. ... The Braves begin a six-game road trip at the Giants with RHP Gavin Floyd facing RHP Tim Lincecum on Monday night. Lincecum beat the Braves on May 2. ... The Cubs open a four-game series in St. Louis on Monday night when LHP Travis Wood faces LHP Tyler Lyons.

 
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Evan Gattis gives Atlanta the lead with a fourth-inning home run as the Braves finish a three-game sweep.  (USATSI)
Evan Gattis gives Atlanta the lead with a fourth-inning home run as the Braves finish a three-game sweep. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

E. Gattis
AB 3
R 2
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
Chicago

N. Schierholtz
AB 3
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 

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Chicago (N.L.) Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ryan Kalish, CF4010122 .267
Chris Coghlan, LF3000022 .200
   a-Junior Lake, PH-LF1000012 .239
Anthony Rizzo, 1B3110110 .285
Starlin Castro, SS4120011 .282
Nate Schierholtz, RF3012112 .195
Welington Castillo, C4010023 .243
Mike Olt, 3B4000013 .176
Darwin Barney, 2B4020011 .153
Edwin Jackson, P2010000 .118
   b-Luis Valbuena, PH1000011 .207
   James Russell, P0000000 .000
   Neil Ramirez, P0000000 .000
   c-Emilio Bonifacio, PH1000010 .293
Totals34292314  
a-struck out for Coghlan in the 7th
b-struck out for Jackson in the 7th
c-struck out for Ramirez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Starlin Castro (8, Harang), Nate Schierholtz (5, Harang)
RBI - Nate Schierholtz 2 (12)
CS - Nate Schierholtz (2, 2nd base by Harang/Gattis)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Rizzo-Castro-Castillo-Olt
Chicago (N.L.) Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Edwin Jackson (L,2-3) 6633231 4.56
James Russell 1122001 5.63
Neil Ramirez 1000010 1.59
HBP - Uggla (by James Russell)
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 91-54, James Russell 14-9, Neil Ramirez 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 10-4, James Russell 3-0
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 25, James Russell 5, Neil Ramirez 3
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jason Heyward, RF3112110 .209
Tyler Pastornicky, 2B4000001 .125
   Alex Wood, P0000000 .000
   David Carpenter, P0000000 .000
Freddie Freeman, 1B4000010 .302
Evan Gattis, C3211110 .257
Chris Johnson, 3B4120000 .279
Ryan Doumit, LF4021010 .225
   B.J. Upton, CF0000000 .202
Andrelton Simmons, SS3011002 .267
Aaron Harang, P2000002 .000
   Anthony Varvaro, P0000000 .000
   Ian Thomas, P0000000 .000
   a-Dan Uggla, PH-2B0100000 .184
Jordan Schafer, CF-LF2000002 .143
Totals2957524  
a-hit by pitch for Thomas in the 7th
Batting
2B - Andrelton Simmons (4, Jackson)
HR - Jason Heyward (3, Russell), Evan Gattis (8, Jackson)
SH - Jordan Schafer (2)
RBI - Jason Heyward 2 (10), Evan Gattis (16), Ryan Doumit (4), Andrelton Simmons (8)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Johnson-Freeman
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Aaron Harang (W,4-3) 6622290 2.98
Anthony Varvaro (H,2) 0.1100000 2.25
Ian Thomas (H,3) 0.2000120 3.86
Alex Wood (H,1) 1200020 2.87
David Carpenter (S,2) 1000010 1.69
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 107-71, Anthony Varvaro 4-2, Ian Thomas 12-6, Alex Wood 16-14, David Carpenter 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 1-6, Anthony Varvaro 1-0, Alex Wood 1-0
Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 24, Anthony Varvaro 2, Ian Thomas 3, Alex Wood 5, David Carpenter 3
Game Information
Attendance - 26151
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Seth Buckminster, First Base - Mike Muchlinski, Second Base - Mike Winters, Third Base - Andy Fletcher