Montero, bullpen lead Cubs to 5-3 win over Braves
CHICAGO (AP) By now, Joe Maddon's Chicago Cubs aren't fazed by an early deficit.
Not when they've shown a propensity all season for turning them into victories.
Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero had consecutive RBI doubles in the sixth as the Cubs extended Shelby Miller's winless skid to 17 games with a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday.
Anthony Rizzo added an RBI single in the seventh for Chicago.
The Cubs, who remain in the thick of the NL wild-card chase, erased an early, 3-1 deficit, taking the lead in the two-run sixth.
''A winning team does that,'' Montero said. ''If we're down in the score, we know we're going to come back at some point and that's part of the confidence, part of the winning attitude.''
Jason Motte (8-1) earned the win in relief, starting a string of four innings during which Cubs relievers didn't allow a hit until pinch-hitter Nick Swisher doubled with one out in the ninth off of closer Hector Rondon. Rondon recovered to earn his 22nd save in 26 opportunities.
The bullpen proved big after Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks left after five innings and giving up three runs. Hendricks struck out seven, walked one and scattered seven hits.
That's when the Cubs bullpen went to work.
''They've been doing it for me all year,'' Hendricks said. ''One of these days, I'm going to pay them back, but those guys down there have been solid all year.''
Miller (5-10) dropped his career-high ninth straight decision. He hasn't won since May 17.
Miller only allowed two hits, including Chris Coghlan's solo homer, over the first five innings, but gave up five runs overall - three earned - after the Braves made a pair of critical errors.
Miller struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings and walked four while scattering six hits. After allowing a first-inning home run to Coghlan, Miller retired 10 of 11 batters before running into trouble in the sixth.
''I made a couple of mistakes on the mound that were kind of costly,'' Miller said. ''At the end of the day we played good baseball, but not great. It's a tough loss.''
The Braves have lost five straight overall and 20 of 22 road games, the most recent which didn't get a lot of help from Atlanta's defense.
''That's not us,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''I don't know when the last time was our infield made an error that cost us anything.''
Chicago, which never led until the sixth, got to 3-2 in the fifth when Montero scored on a throwing error by Braves third baseman Pedro Ciriaco when he attempted to start a double play.
Atlanta built a 3-1 lead in the third inning when Nick Markakis lined a two-out double over center fielder Dexter Fowler's head.
Markakis scored on Freddie Freeman's fielder's choice in the first inning after lacing a sharp single on the game's first pitch.
But the early deficit didn't affect the Cubs, whose offense finally got to Miller in the sixth and whose offense only allowed the one hit over the final four innings.
For Chicago, that's a recipe for winning baseball - even if things don't start off the way the Cubs would like.
''We've (come back) a lot this year,'' Bryant said. ''Great teams have the ability to come from behind and we did that today.''
Despite a three-game losing streak earlier this week in which they gave up 25 runs and 40 hits in back-to-back losses Detroit, the Cubs remain on a torrid pace. With their second straight win over the Braves, Chicago improved to 17-4 in their last 21 games.
Cubs: Bryant returned to the lineup after being pulled from Thursday's game after fouling a ball off his foot in the fifth inning with the Cubs leading the Braves 7-0. Maddon said Friday that Bryant experienced soreness in his foot after the game.
Braves RHP Williams Perez (4-4, 4.34 ERA) will be looking for his first win in August after losing his last three starts, in which he has given up 11 runs. Cubs RHP Dan Haren (6-5, 3.38) will make his fourth start for the Cubs and trying for his second win in a Chicago uniform after coming over from the Marlins in a trade last month.