Cubs at Braves
Anthony Rizzo is stringing together home runs and the Chicago Cubs are stringing together victories, entering the middle contest of a three-game series Tuesday at the Atlanta Braves. Rizzo blasted a homer for the third consecutive game in Monday’s 4-3 victory in Atlanta, the fourth consecutive win for the defending World Series champions to move them 1 ½ games ahead of the Braves as both teams chase a National League wild-card berth.
Chicago, which scored 27 runs during a three-game weekend sweep of Baltimore, is 4-0 since the All-Star break for the first time since 2009 and has won its last five road games. The Braves saw their three-game winning streak snapped as they were held to just six hits in the opener, after pounding out 31 n a three-game weekend sweep of Arizona. Atlanta's Brandon Phillips finished 2-for-4 Monday and is 9-for-16 with five RBIs since the All-Star break. One Braves hitter struggling at the moment is Freddie Freeman, who is 1-for-12 in the past three games, but Atlanta scored twice in the ninth and loaded the bases before Wade Davis escaped with the save.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH John Lackey (5-9, 5.20 ERA) vs. Braves LH Sean Newcomb (1-4, 4.26)
Lackey is expected to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday’s start after being sidelined with right foot plantar fasciitis, but due to the All-Star break did not miss a turn in the rotation. The 38-year-old went 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA last season but struggled through the first half, allowing four earned runs or more eight times in 17 starts. Lackey, who gave up three runs on six hits in six innings July 5 against Tampa Bay, is 1-1 with a 2.59 ERA in four career starts against the Braves.
Newcomb impressed in his first four major-league starts, but is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA and 11 runs allowed in 7 1/3 innings in two July starts. The 24-year-old gave up four runs on four hits in four innings July 9 at Washington, five days after surrendering seven runs on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of a loss to Houston. Newcomb, who struggled with his control at times in the minors, has walked six batters in July after issuing just eight walks in 24 1/3 innings in his first four outings.
1. Atlanta INF/OF Sean Rodriguez, sidelined all season after sustaining injuries in an offseason automobile accident, went 0-for-3 with a walk in his season debut Monday.
2. Chicago CF Ian Happ collected two hits for the second consecutive game and is batting .298 in July.
3. Braves RF Nick Markakis is 15 hits shy of 2,000 for his career.