Apr 19, 2024  |  
 | Remer,MN
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NextImg:Cubs start strong, hold off Braves for 8-6 win

The Cubs didn’t take long to put Friday’s misery behind them. Then they had to hold on.

Dansby Swanson and Jeimer Candelario hit first-inning home runs, Ian Happ added a homer in the seventh and the Cubs beat the Braves 8-6 on Saturday in front of 40,201 at a soggy Wrigley Field. In what was effectively a bullpen game, the Cubs used six pitchers against one of baseball’s most potent offenses.

One day after getting mauled 8-0 by Atlanta, the Cubs jumped on the league-leading Braves with five first-inning runs. The Cubs were helped by a Matt Olson error on a sharp Cody Bellinger grounder that brought in the first two.

Swanson and Candelario didn’t need much assistance.

Swanson, in his first season with the Cubs after leaving Atlanta as a free agent, hit a two-run homer off Bryce Elder to make it 4-0. Candelario then connected for a solo home run, his first with the team since his trade from the Nationals, to grow the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

Then it was on an array of Cubs arms to hold it, which they did when Adbert Alzolay pitched the ninth. It wasn’t an easy inning, however, thanks to Olson’s two-run home run to straightaway center.

Making his second start of the year, Javier Assad lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed two runs, including Ozzie Albies’ third-inning solo home run. Pitching in Marcus Stroman’s rotation slot, Assad left with two on and two out in the fourth. Michael Fulmer ended the inning on a tricky play, getting Michael Harris II to ground to Candelario at first then managing to navigate the slippery conditions to cover the bag.

The sixth was also slippery for the Cubs. Replacing Fulmer, Daniel Palencia walked the bases loaded with one out. Palencia was lifted in favor of Mark Leiter Jr., who allowed Harris’ sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Ronald Acuna Jr. and then loaded the bases by walking Albies to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in Austin Riley. But Leiter struck out Riley to keep the Cubs ahead 7-4.

The Cubs added runs on Nick Madrigal’s fourth-inning RBI single, and Christopher Morel’s run-scoring single in the fifth before Happ connected against A.J. Minter to restore their four-run lead.