CHICAGO -- Four Cubs homered -- including two from Kris Bryant -- while Jason Hammel allowed two runs across 6 1/3 innings as Chicago defeated the Braves, 9-3, on Sunday at Wrigley Field to complete the series sweep. It marks the fourth sweep for the Cubs this season, the first time they have accomplished such a feat since 1945.
Dexter Fowler, Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero all went long off Atlanta starter Matt Wisler, who allowed seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. The Cubs totaled 12 home runs while completing a four-game sweep of the Braves for the first time since 1968.
Chicago is now a National League best 19-4 in the month of August, moving 5 1/2 games ahead of the Giants for the National League's second Wild Card spot.The win puts them at a season-high 20 games over .500.
"What I like is that we didn't settle for a split, we didn't settle for three out of four, we came out and played it for four out of four," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "And that's impressive. You gotta give our players and coaches a lot for credit for that."
The Braves went winless during this seven-game trip that began in San Diego, and they have lost 22 of their past 24 road games. Hammel added to those woes as he recorded his first quality start since July 3 and notched an RBI single in the fourth. The only two runs he surrendered, including a home run from Ryan Lavarnway, were tallied in the fifth inning.
"It was a rough series," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Three of the four starters didn't get through the fifth inning. It's tough. But it's learning pains and growing pains."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Start 'em up: Fowler continued to provide a spark at the top of Chicago's order, hitting a leadoff home run on the second pitch he saw. Fowler now has four career homers leading off, and he has heated up as of late. He now has 18 hits and seven walks in his last 10 games. His home run set the tone for Cubs' offense, including Bryant's two-run blast in the first inning. More >
Rookie struggles: Wisler had surrendered just eight homers in 62 career innings before allowing exactly half that amount while facing just 19 Cubs hitters. The rookie was one pitch away from exiting the first inning with Fowler's leadoff shot accounting for the only damage, but he walked Anthony Rizzo on a full count and then surrendered Bryant's homer. Wisler threw up his right arm in frustration after allowing Montero's opposite-field shot in the third inning.
"We needed a win today, and I didn't really give us a good chance to be in the game," said Wisler, who has a 9.13 ERA in five August starts. "I gave up seven in the first three innings, and it's pretty hard to come back from that. I just left a couple pitches up. They hit a couple good pitches out and a couple mistakes out. They were just hitting the ball hard off me today."
Bryant's blasts: After hitting one in the first inning, Bryant tallied his third multi-homer game of the season thanks to his solo shot in the sixth. The rookie third baseman lofted a ball to center field on a 3-2 pitch, but the wind carried it far enough to land in the basket. He finished 3-for-4 on the day and was hit by a pitch, scoring each time he reached base. His four runs scored is a career high.
"I think that's good for me heading into the rest of these games," Bryant said. "I just think I'm taking advantage of the pitches I should be hitting."
Swisher:Nick Swisher followed Saturday's two-homer performance with three hits, including a pair of RBI singles, on Sunday. Although the Braves also have to find playing time for Michael Bourn and Jonny Gomes, Swisher might continue to see regular time in left field, or at least as much as his surgically repaired knees will allow.
"Everything we threw in these four games, it either fell in the [home run] basket or went over the fence. It was one of those series where things didn't go our way. It went all their way." -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman
"You cannot abuse American Legion week. There's always a point of diminishing returns that set in everything. That's the one thing I did learn from my economics class at Lafayette in 1972. You bring it out there, and then you pull it back. There's other things that we can do as we move it along forward. "-- Maddon, on continuing his American Legion Week after his team scored a combined 30 runs against the Braves. Players were not allowed to show up to the clubhouse early and did not take batting practice, much like American Legion ballplayers "showed up and played"
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Braves surrendered 18 home runs during this winless seven-game road trip (56 innings). Their pitching staff had allowed just 14 homers in the previous 127 innings completed this month.
The Cubs' five home runs match a season high, when they hit five against Milwaukee on Aug. 13. It's the first time Chicago has connected on five home runs since Sept. 21-22, 2007, after it hit four in the previous day's game. Its 51 home runs since the All-Star break lead the Majors.
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was removed in the sixth inning with "tightness in the groin," Maddon said. He was replaced by Starlin Castro for the remainder of the game. Maddon said Russell could miss tomorrow afternoon's game against the Indians, but he didn't specify if the injury was long-term.
A fan was struck by a foul ball during Sunday's game. The Cubs say the fan was conscious and transported to a local hospital for further examination. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Julio Teheran will take the mound when Atlanta begins a three-game series against Colorado on Monday night at Turner Field. Teheran has posted a 2.44 ERA at home, and the Braves have won five of the past seven games played in Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m ET.
Cubs: After their game was postponed because of inclement weather on June 15, the Cubs make up a game with the Indians on Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Jon Lester gets the nod, hoping to rebound after one of his roughest outings this season when he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. CT.