Bellinger, Swanson, Happ power Cubs past MLB-leading Braves 6-4 for 6th straight series win

Updated Aug. 6, 2023 7:05 p.m. ET

CHICAGO (AP) — Cody Bellinger had his third straight multi-hit game, scored twice and drove in a run as the Chicago Cubs beat the MLB-leading Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Sunday for their sixth straight series win.

Dansby Swanson added a double and two RBIs against his former team, and Ian Happ drove in a pair of runs, helping the Cubs win for the 15th time in 19 games. Chicago closed to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

In 23 games since the All-Star break, the surging Cubs have scored 164 runs, the most in the majors.

"The offense again, man, just relentless at-bats," Cubs manager David Ross said. “The walks fuel us a little bit, and getting guys on and creating traffic. Stealing a base here or there and putting the pressure on the defense and some timely hitting.”


All-Star Justin Steele scuffled at times through 5 1/3 innings, and won his fourth straight start on a misty day at Wrigley Field. Mike Tauchman had two hits, scored two runs and threw out Ronald Acuña Jr. at the plate from right field in the fifth to limit an Atlanta rally.

“The National League is kind of running through the Braves right now," Tauchman said. "It's evidence that if we execute the way that we can ... we can compete with anybody.”

Atlanta's Matt Olson hit his NL-leading 39th home run, a monster 453-foot blast to the top of Wrigley’s right-center bleachers, and finished with three RBIs. Ozzie Albies had three hits, including a double. Olson and Acuña and each had two hits.

Olson launched his third homer in four games and sixth in seven. He’s second in the majors in homers, trailing only the Angels' Shohei Ohtani, who entered Sunday's action with 40.

Bellinger is 13 for 31 (.419) during an eight-game hitting streak and has raised his season batting average to .326 from .271 on June 15 when he returned from a bone bruise on his knee.

Steele (13-3) allowed four runs, three earned, and eight hits while striking out seven and walking four.

Steele was replaced by Michael Fulmer with the bases loaded in the sixth and Chicago ahead 5-3. Fulmer hit Acuña to force in a run, then struck out Albies and Austin Riley to end the rally and preserve a 5-4 lead for Chicago.

In total, four Chicago relievers allowed just two hits, with Adbert Alzolay earning his his 14th save.

“It's a great ballclub over there," Steele said of the Cubs. "You kind of knew the task at hand. It was just one of those wins and everybody kind of contributed.”

Charlie Morton (10-10) lost his fourth straight start, allowing five runs and four hits with four walks and hit batter in 4 1/3 innings.

“I don't think there's any excuses other than we just didn't play good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We ran up against a hot team.

“They're swinging the bats rally good. Their bullpen has been really good.”

Olson’s two-run drive in the third put Atlanta ahead.

The Cubs tied it at 2 in the bottom half with just one hit, when Morton walked three and hit a batter.

Atlanta took a 3-2 lead in in the fifth on Olson’s RBI single.

Chicago answered with three runs in the bottom half, with runs scoring on Happ’s single, Bellinger’s double and Jeimer Cadelario’s single.

Atlanta cut it to 5-4 in the sixth and chased Steele. Swanson doubled in Bellinger in the seventh to make it 6-4.


The Cubs recalled RHP Caleb Kilian from Triple-A Iowa and optioned LHP Anthony Kay. Manager David Ross said Kilian should help fill a gap in Chicago’s rotation with RHP Marcus Stroman on the IL (right hip inflammation).

The 26-year-old Killan is 7-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) with Iowa this season.


Cubs: Stroman played catch on Saturday. The right-hander is eligible to return on Aug. 16.


Braves: RHP Spencer Strider (12-3, 3.61) starts on Monday at Pittsburgh. The Pirates will go with RHP Osvaldo Bido (2-2, 5.18).

Cubs: LHP Drew Smyly (8-7, 4.71) takes the mound versus Mets RHP Kodai Senga (7-6, 3.25) Monday in New York.