CHICAGO -- In his first Major League start, rookie lefty Max Fried combined with four Braves relievers to end the Cubs' winning streak at six games. The lefty scattered four hits, including a solo homer by Ian Happ, over five innings in the Braves' 5-1 victory over the Cubs on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
With the loss and the Brewers' win over the Nationals on Sunday, the Cubs' lead in the National League Central is 3 1/2 games. Chicago had outscored its opponents, 49-19, in the six games before Sunday.
"With the short looks we had [at Fried], I didn't really know what to expect," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "But you can see what everybody was talking about. He was real efficient and made pitches when he had to and allowed himself to stay out there and get that win."
Fried, 23, the Braves' No. 10 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, missed most of 2014 and all of '15 with Tommy John surgery. He had made four relief appearances before this start. The lefty not only kept the Cubs in check, but helped himself on defense, including a play in the fifth when he fielded Jason Heyward's comebacker and was able to make an off-balance throw to second to get Happ.
Happ did launch a Fried fastball 419 feet (per Statcast™) to left in the second for his 21st home run, which tied the game at 1.
Rio Ruiz hit an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run single in the ninth for the Braves, who avoided being shut out in the seven-game season series with the win. Ruiz's career-high three-RBI performance was aided by fellow rookie Dansby Swanson, who singled in the fourth and doubled in the ninth to leave him with a .400 batting average and a 1.063 OPS over his past 19 games.
"It's definitely nice to be a part of," Ruiz said. "We just have to continue to get going. This was a good series for a lot of the rookies."
Mike Montgomery gave up three runs over five innings and took the loss, but the bright spot for the Cubs' pitching came in the sixth, when Dillon Maples made his Major League debut. The right-hander, who has battled injuries and considered quitting one year ago, walked one and struck out Ruiz to end the inning.
Maples got the ball from the strikeout and planned on giving it to his mother.
"He did a really wonderful job and I mentioned that he got out some really good hitters and his response to me was, 'It was just me and the catcher,' which I loved," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought that was outstanding. I hope he never loses that perspective or concept."
Said Maples: "The buildup was something I never experienced before but as far as being out there, it was the same. ... Now it's just about feeling like you belong out there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Good timing:Freddie Freeman doubled to open the Braves' fourth and moved up when Matt Kemp flied out to right. Nick Markakis then walked, and Swanson and Ruiz each followed with RBI singles to go ahead, 3-1.
Freeman says his previously fractured left wrist has been feeling weak, but he notched multihit performances in the final two games of the series and has six extra-base hits in his past 25 at-bats.
Baez banged up, but OK:Javier Baez slid head-first into second base trying to steal in the Chicago second, colliding with second baseman Ozzie Albies. Baez appeared to be shaken up but stayed in the game defensively to start the Braves third. But he only lasted one batter and then was pulled. Baez, who has been starting at short since Addison Russell was injured Aug. 3, experienced blurred vision and was taken to a Chicago hospital to be examined. The initial examination was positive, and he was not expected to miss much time.
"He's pretty important," Maddon said of Baez. "Hopefully, it'll be minor and he'll be back [Monday] and we won't have to [worry] over all of it. He's very important to us right now, I cannot deny that." More >
"We've played great all week. We've done so many things well all week. There's no way a loss and not winning a four-game series will drag me down. I got my Coach [Mike] Ditka jersey ready. We're planning on going to get some wings tonight as a staff. There's a lot to look forward to." -- Maddon
"That thing just keeps breaking. I know that's hard to get a hold of because it has a lot of break and it keeps breaking. It's nice when a guy has a knack for that because it's a huge weapon for him." -- Snitker on Fried, who recorded four swings and misses and three called strikes on the 15 curveballs he threw
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Montgomery took the loss, his first since July 6, snapping a four-game winning streak. He has a 1.88 ERA in his past four starts.
With his 21st home run, Happ ranks fifth all-time among Cubs rookies, passing Tyler Colvin, who hit 20 in 2010.
SWANSON HEATING UP
Swanson has eight multihit performances in his past 19 games. He totaled just 13 over the 95 games played before he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on July 26.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With one out in the Cubs' second, Baez walked and tried to steal second during Happ's at-bat. Baez was called out, but the Cubs challenged the ruling. After a review, the call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:R.A. Dickey will take the mound when Atlanta returns to SunTrust Park to open a three-game Interleague series against the Rangers on Monday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Dickey threw a season-high 121 pitches as he limited the Phillies to one run over eight innings Wednesday.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta, named the NL Pitcher of the Month for August, will face the Pirates in his first September start Monday to open a four-game set. The right-hander led the Majors in August in ERA. He's 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his last four starts. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT at PNC Park.