Braves Score Twice on Seiya Suzuki’s Fielding Error, Overcome 6-run Deficit to Beat Cubs

AP Photo/John Bazemore
Chicago Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki misplays a fly ball from Atlanta Braves’ Sean Murphy allowing two runs to score in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Atlanta. Suzuki was charged with an error.

ATLANTA (AP) — Sean Murphy reached on a two-run fielding error by right fielder Seiya Suzuki in the eighth inning and the major league-leading Atlanta Braves overcame a six-run deficit to beat the Chicago Cubs 7-6 on Tuesday night.

The victory eliminated wild-card contending Chicago from the NL Central race, giving the title to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Suzuki ran to his right and called off center fielder Cody Bellinger, but apparently lost the fly ball in the lights and dropped it. Drew Smyly (11-10) aided the comeback by throwing two wild pitches in the eighth, letting Matt Olson advance to third and setting the stage for pinch-runner Forrest Wall to steal second.

Both runners easily scored on Suzuki’s error. Brad Hand (5-2) worked a scoreless eighth to win it. Raisel Iglesias got his 31st save in the ninth after facing four batters.

The Braves cut it to 6-3 in the sixth on Kevin Pillar’s ninth homer, Olson’s RBI single and Ozuna’s RBI double. Pillar’s drive gave the Braves 300 homers for the season and made them the third team in major league history (joining the 2019 Minnesota Twins and 2019 New York Yankees) to hit 300.

Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 41st homer, a two-run shot to right in the seventh, to make it 6-5.

Atlanta, already guaranteed a postseason berth for the sixth straight year, began the night with a four-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL’s best record. The Braves were three games ahead of Baltimore for the best record in the majors.

The Cubs led 2-0 with two outs in the second on Yan Gomes’ RBI infield single and Miles Mastrobuoni’s RBI single up the middle. Suzuki made it 4-0 in the second when he tripled into the gap in right-center, and Bellinger’s RBI single padded the lead to 5-0 in the fourth, a liner that chased Bryce Elder.

AP Photo/John Bazemore
Chicago Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki hits a single in the second inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Atlanta.

Elder allowed seven hits, five runs and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. He has a 9.49 ERA in his last three starts. Steele gave up six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Chicago went up 6-0 in the sixth on Ian Happ’s RBI single.

Chicago, trying to make the postseason for the first time since 2020, began the night tied with Arizona for the second of three NL wild-cards. The Cubs were one game ahead of fourth-place Miami, which was rained out at the New York Mets.