CHICAGO -- Chris Johnson continued his recent power surge with a three-run home run, and the Braves registered double-digit runs for a second straight day in a 10-7 victory and a series win over the Cubs on Sunday.
Johnson went 3-for-4 with an intentional walk, three RBIs and three runs scored. He now has three homers in the last two games after managing just three in the first 90 games.
The Braves head into the break tied with the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East.
Starter Julio Teheran (9-6) bounced back from a poor outing his last start in New York -- when he gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings -- and was in control throughout, giving up four runs on seven hits and striking out six. The runs came on a pair of two-run homers from Arismendy Alcantara and Chris Coghlan after the Braves had opened a big lead.
The Braves busted out of a recent offensive funk on Saturday and kept the hit parade going on Sunday, breaking the game open early with a three-run second inning and a four-run third.
Catcher Gerald Laird's two-run double was the highlight of the second and Johnson's homer was the big blast in the third. He's 5-for-9 with seven RBIs in the last two games.
After the Cubs pulled within 7-2 on Alcantara's homer -- the first of his Major League career -- Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella made it 10-2 with a bases-clearing double off left-hander Zac Rosscup.
Coghlan's homer in the seventh made it 10-4, and then the Cubs added three more in the eighth inning, aided by three walks as it took three Braves relievers -- Luis Avilan, Shae Simmons and Jordan Walden -- to get three outs.
Actually, they really only got two. The inning might have been even worse, but the Cubs' Starlin Castro was nailed at the plate trying to score from third base -- with the bases loaded -- on a pitch from Walden that bounced to the third-base side of the plate.
Laird pounced on the ball and threw to Walden, who tagged Castro for the second out of the inning. Catcher John Baker then followed with a two-run double. Walden retired Junior Lake to end the inning.
There was no drama in the ninth as Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect inning for his 29th save.
When it was revealed in May that the Braves were not willing to make the seemingly sensible decision to release Dan Uggla, there was reason to wonder when the frustration of being a seldom-used bench player would lead him to cause a problem in the clubhouse.
Some indication was provided on Sunday when the Braves suspended Uggla for one game. Though manager Fredi Gonzalez opted not to discuss the matter, multiple sources have said Uggla arrived late for Saturday afternoon's game against the Cubs.
While it may not be the first time Uggla has arrived late, Gonzalez did not provide any answers. Uggla, who was not permitted to be at Wrigley Field on Sunday, was unavailable for comment.
Uggla is owed approximately $20 million until his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2015 season. While many fans have said the Braves should simply see this as a sunk cost and release the veteran second baseman, the club does not share this view.
Sources have indicated that releasing Uggla would impact some of the club's other financial commitments and loans.
The Braves have been unsuccessful in their attempts to try to trade Uggla this past offseason. While they would still love to move him, they certainly are not finding much of a market for a 34-year-old veteran who has batted .074 with a .242 on-base percentage in the 33 plate appearances he has totaled dating back to May 6.
Uggla has batted .182 with a .646 OPS in his past 284 games. Just two years ago, he was elected to serve as the National League's starting second baseman in the All-Star Game.
----- Source: MLB.com
Many are wondering if the Braves will eventually release Dan Uggla.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt