By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Wade Davis has converted each of his 18 saves with the Cubs this year.
The ninth inning against the Braves was proof they haven’t all been easy.
Jon Lester bounced back from the shortest start of his career by allowing only one run in seven innings and Chicago stopped Atlanta’s ninth-inning comeback to give the Cubs a 4-3 win over the Braves on Monday night.
The Cubs led 4-1 before Atlanta scored two runs in the ninth off Davis. The game ended with the bases loaded.
“I’ve probably had two or three this year where I just don’t know where anything is going,” Davis said. “With the outcome that the team wins, I’m not even upset.
Davis allowed one-out singles to Brandon Phillips and Freddie Freeman before Phillips scored from third on a wild pitch. Matt Kemp followed with a run-scoring single before pinch-runner Lane Adams stole second and moved to third on Tyler Flowers’ fly ball to the warning track in center field.
Following an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Matt Adams, pinch-runner Dansby Swanson stole second, leaving runners on second and third. Davis walked Sean Rodriguez, playing in his first game of the season, to load the bases.
Johan Camargo’s fly ball to shallow left ended the game.
Flowers said the ninth “was fun — and it was almost real fun.”
It was a survival test for Davis.
“I was just happy I could make one or two pitches and get out of it,” Davis said.
Davis has not blown a save in 24 consecutive chances, going back to September 2016 with Kansas City.
Ben Zobrist gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with a two-run single in the fifth. Anthony Rizzo hit his 23rd homer to center in the seventh, and Addison Russell drove in Javier Baez with a pinch-hit double in the eighth.
Lester (6-6) allowed one run in his first win since June 24. He added some offensive highlights to his big night. He hit a third-inning double and stole second — the first of his career — following a sixth-inning walk.
Lester returned to his winning form after allowing 10 runs, four earned, in two-thirds of an inning in a 14-3 loss to Pittsburgh on July 9.
The Cubs, coming off a sweep of Baltimore, have won four straight and trail first-place Milwaukee by 3½ games in the NL Central. Chicago began the night only one-half game ahead of the Braves in the NL wild-card race.
Teheran (7-7) allowed two runs and five hits and four walks in six innings, leaving him 1-7 in 10 home starts. He is 6-0 on the road.
Phillips’ single up the middle drove in Ender Inciarte, who stole third, in the third.
Kyle Schwarber ended the sixth inning by catching Freeman’s fly ball in foul territory before tumbling over the short wall on the left field line.
Braves RHP Arodys Vizcaino (right index finger strain) had one strikeout and allowed no hits in one inning for Triple-A Gwinnett in what may be his only injury rehab appearance. Monday’s roster moves left the team with a seven-man bullpen, but manager Brian Snitker indicated he’d go back to having eight relievers when Vizcaino returns in “a couple days.”… OF Danny Santana (bacterial infection) came off the 10 day DL. RHP Jason Hursh and IF Jace Peterson were optioned to Gwinnett.
As always is the case in Atlanta, there was a strong presence by Cubs fans in the sellout crowd of 41,256.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said it was “like a playoff game almost with the energy in the stadium.”
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 3 minutes by weather.
Rodriguez made his Braves debut, starting at third base. He mishandled a grounder hit by Willson Contreras in the fourth for an error.
Rodriguez spent the first half of the season recovering from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder after a vehicle he was driving was rammed by a stolen police car in Miami on Jan. 28.
“I’m like a little kid on his birthday,” Rodriguez said before the game.
Cubs: RHP John Lackey (5-9, 5.20) is expected to come off the disabled list to make Tuesday night’s start. He went on the DL with right foot plantar fasciitis following his previous start on July 5.
Braves: Rookie LHP Sean Newcomb (1-4, 426) will make his seventh start, and his first against Chicago. Newcomb has allowed a combined 11 runs in 7 1/3 innings in losing his past two starts.