Bryan LaHair continues to impress, belting the first of consecutive home runs in the fourth inning of Chicago's 5-1 win over the Braves.
The matchup of Tommy Hanson against Jeff Samardzija proved to be a pitcher's duel, but Jason Heyward launched his fourth home run of the season in the second inning off Samardzija for an early lead. They kept that lead until the fourth when Bryan LaHair, who had just missed hitting a home run in first at-bat in the second, connected against Hanson for his eighth home run of the season. Ian Stewart followed up with a home run of his own for back-to-back dingers and a 2-1 lead.
Hanson and Samardzija put up zeros otherwise. Hanson escaped trouble in the second with two on and one out by inducing a double play out of Darwin Barney, and again in the third after a walk and a double with two outs.
The only real rally the Braves could manage against Samardzija evolved in the seventh. Jason Heyward was drilled with a pitch with one out and Tyler Pastornicky singled with pinch-hitter Eric Hinske threatening to at the very least tie the game. Instead, Hinske lined out to first with LaHair doubling off Heyward at second, effectively killing any chance of a rally.
The back-to-back homers were the only runs Hanson allowed in six innings. He allowed five hits and struck out three. Samardzija struck out seven in seven innings, surrendering only Heyward's home run.
Eric O'Flaherty relieved Hanson in the seventh and retired the first two hitters in easy fashion. However, when a 2-0 pitch hits David DeJesus, warnings are issued and when Fredi Gonzalez emerged from the Braves dugout to argue, perhaps about Samardzija not getting warned after hitting Heyward, he was soon ejected from the game. Heyward getting hit may have been construed as retaliation for Hanson plunking Reed Johnson in the second. The Cubs capitalized after that: Tony Campana reached on a bunt single and Starlin Castro singled home DeJesus to extend the lead to 3-1.
When Carlos Marmol relieved Samardzija in the eighth. Braves hitters had to like their chances. Marmol, because of his tendency to walk pretty much anyone if given the opportunity, had been dropped from the closer's role and was relegated to setup work. He stayed true to form, walking Michael Bourn and Martin Prado to start the inning, but after Freddie Freeman lined out, Brian McCann took a called third strike and Dan Uggla struck out on three pitches.
Geovany Soto added a two-run homer, through the fog that had loomed over the field in the bottom of the eighth off Chad Durbin and the Braves were retired in order in the ninth after a leadoff double.