Atlanta Home Opener: Braves beat error-prone Cubs 8-0


ATLANTA (AP) —
Brian McCann had eagerly anticipated his first game back in Atlanta since signing with the Braves in November.

It turned out to be worth the wait.

Atlanta Braves’ Ender Inciarte, right, gets congratulations from Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) after hitting a leadoff home run for a 1-0 lead over the Chicago Cubs during a baseball game, Monday, April 1, 2019, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

McCann hit a two-run single in a four-run first inning, and the Braves took advantage of six Chicago errors to beat the Cubs 8-0 on Monday night.

“This is one of those moments I’ll think about when I’m done playing the game,” McCann said. “This is my home, so it meant a lot to me.”

The 35-year-old McCann grew up near Atlanta and played his first nine seasons with the Braves before stints with the Yankees and Astros. He received a loud ovation from a sellout crowd before his first at-bat.

After being swept in their first series at Philadelphia, the Braves became the final major league team to win a game. Ender Inciarte and Ronald Acuña Jr. homered off Kyle Hendricks (0-1).

Hendricks gave up seven runs, two earned, on 10 hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander’s 2019 debut came after he agreed to a four-year extension last week that added $55.5 million to his contract through 2023.

Hendricks said he made “just way too many non-competitive pitches up.”

The Cubs have allowed seven or more runs in three straight losses since opening the season with a 12-4 win at Texas. The six errors were the most by the Cubs in a nine-inning game since also making six on June 14, 1982, against Philadelphia.

“Hopefully that was just an anomaly game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

The Cubs’ fielding woes started with Atlanta’s first batter.

Rookie Mark Zagunis dropped Inciarte’s foul pop-up in left field for an error in the first inning. On the next pitch from Hendricks, Inciarte hit a homer over the 375-foot mark in right-center.

A throwing error by shortstop Javier Báez on a grounder by Nick Markakis allowed Josh Donaldson, who reached on a single, to score from second as the long first inning continued. Finally, Zagunis was part of a trio of Cubs fielders who watched Ozzie Albies’ blooper fall in shallow left field for a double later in the first. That play set up McCann’s two-run single.

Albies had three hits.

The struggles for Zagunis continued in the second when he took a called third strike to end the inning with Wilson Contreras on third base. Zagunis later had two doubles.

Sean Newcomb threw 91 pitches in four trouble-filled innings. He gave up six hits with four walks. He left the bases loaded in the third when David Bote’s grounder to third base ended the inning.

Wes Parsons (1-1) threw one perfect inning in relief of Newcomb for his first career win.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (right elbow spur), who had been projected to open the season as Atlanta’s No. 1 starter, will make a rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday. He could return to the Atlanta rotation in about two weeks. … LHP Darren O’Day had renewed soreness in his left forearm and won’t throw for two weeks. … RHP Kevin Gausman (right shoulder tendinitis) threw on the side and could come off the 10-day injured list to start against Miami this weekend.

CLOSER IN WAITING

Manager Brian Snitker said the expected return of LHP A.J. Minter (left shoulder inflammation) “will be really big” for the bullpen. “Then we’ll start slotting guys to where they belong,” Snitker said. Minter will throw in a simulated game on Tuesday and is eligible to be activated on Thursday. He could share save chances with Arodys Vizcaíno.

HUGS AND KISSES

The dugouts emptied but no punches were thrown after Albies and the Braves appeared to protest Bote’s slide into second base on Jason Heyward’s double-play grounder to end the eighth. Umpires quickly waved players off the field, about the same time relievers were starting to leave the bullpens.

No one seemed to know what the fuss was about.

“I don’t even know why the dugouts emptied,” Donaldson said.

UP NEXT

Cubs: Following an off day Tuesday, a nine-game trip continues when LHP Jon Lester (1-0, 3.00 ERA) faces the Braves on Wednesday night.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (0-1, 5.40) is 3-1 with a 3.44 ERA in eight career starts against the Cubs.

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