ATLANTA (AP) Javier Assad pitched six shutout innings and the Chicago Cubs avoided being swept for the first time this season by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Wednesday night.

Assad (4-0) allowed just four hits and walked one while matching a season high with seven strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to 1.49 through nine starts.

“I’ve been very pleased with just being able to stay healthy,” Assad said through an interpreter. “The ability to start, in general, and go out every five or six days. Just really happy to be able to go out there.”

Pete Crow-Armstrong went 2 for 4 with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored, and Seiya Suzuki and Mike Tauchman homered for the Cubs, who had 13 hits after mustering just eight while being shut out in the first two games of the series.

Nick Madrigal had three hits and Michael Busch scored two runs.

Assad has allowed just four earned runs in his last six starts and hasn't given up more than two runs in a game this season.

“He’s pitching at an elite level,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “It is just exceptional what he is doing. He’s off to a wonderful start and I’m happy for him.”

Charlie Morton (3-1) lasted just three innings for the Braves, giving up four runs - three earned - and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

“Obviously, they pitched really well the first two nights and we got nothing, so early runs were just a good place for us and we got a good starting pitcher out of the game quickly,” Counsell said.

Chicago's Ben Brown gave up a run in two innings of relief, and Luke Little finished with a scoreless ninth.

Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuña, who played in each of Atlanta's first 39 games, was given a day off to rest. He's off to a slow start, hitting just .245 with three homers.

“He can have two days,” manager Brian Snitker said, referring to the Braves having Thursday off. “Just talked to him (Tuesday) night after the game. Just let him relax a little bit and wake up (Wednesday) knowing he’s got two days to kind of detox a little bit.”

The Cubs shook off their offensive woes from the first two games of the series immediately when Tauchman lifted the game's first pitch - one of 35 thrown by Morton in the first inning - over the left field wall.

Suzuki followed with a double and Cody Bellinger singled. Christopher Morel's grounder to shortstop knocked in another run before Madrigal's infield single loaded the bases. Crow-Armstrong was hit on the shin to force in a run and give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

The Cubs tacked on another run against Morton in the third. After Miles Mastrobuoni walked and Madrigal singled to put runners at first and third, Morton threw wild to first on a pick-off attempt, plating Mastrobuoni.

The Braves avoided a shutout in the seventh inning on a pair of doubles by Orlando Arcia and Zack Short.

After losing 2-0 and 7-0 in the first two games of the series, the Cubs will depart Atlanta with some momentum.

“Its’s a good team over there,” Cubs catcher Yan Gomes said. “You tip your cap and move on. There are some good teams ahead of us and we’re a good team and battling in the division still.”

The Cubs are 3-13 in their last 16 games at Truist Field.


Cubs: RHP Keegan Thompson was placed on the 15-day Injured List with a viral illness retroactive to May 12. LHP Luke Little was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. ... Infielder Nico Hoerner missed his second straight game with a sore hamstring. Cubs manager said he doesn’t know if a trip to the IL is in play.

Braves: 3B Austin Riley remains day to day with left side inflammation. ... RHP Pierce Johnson threw live batting practice and appears to be ready to come off the Injured List on Friday when he is eligible. He had been sidelined with left elbow inflammation. ... C Sean Murphy is set to begin a rehab assignment next week.


Cubs: LHP Justin Steele (0-0, 4.73) will open up a four-game series at home against Pirates RHP Jared Jones (2-4, 2.68) on Thursday.

Braves: LHP Max Fried (3-1 3.57) will open a three-game series in Atlanta against Padres RHP Matt Waldron (1-5, 5.49) on Friday, the first of 10 games in 10 days for the Braves.



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