ATLANTA (AP) — Max Olson hit his major league-leading 54th homer, and the Atlanta Braves clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason with a 5-3 win over the slumping Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.
Austin Riley had three hits and scored two runs as the Braves (103-56) won for the sixth time in seven games. The NL East champions can match the franchise record for wins with a season-ending sweep of the Nationals.
“(Truist Park) is one of the best atmospheres in baseball,” Olson said of clinching home-field advantage. “A bunch of fans who come out and support, understand the game. It’s the best place to play.”
Chicago has dropped 13 of 19 to fall out of position for an NL wild card. With the three-game sweep by the Braves, the Cubs (82-77) fell a half-game back of Miami for the third wild card, pending the result of the Marlins’ rain-delayed game against the New York Mets.
“Very frustrating,” Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman said. “We seem defeated at times. Everything that could be going wrong is going wrong. Hopefully luck starts to go in our favor in Milwaukee.”
Atlanta rookie A.J. Smith-Shawver allowed a run in 3 2/3 hitless innings. Kyle Wright (1-3) then came in and pitched 2 1/3 innings of one-run ball. Raisel Iglesias picked up his 32nd save with a perfect ninth inning.
Stroman (10-9) was charged with four runs, two earned, and four hits in two innings. It was his second start and fourth appearance overall since coming off the injured list Sept. 15.
“I don’t think the confidence has dimmed,” Stroman said. “Things are just not going our way. You can feel it and see it when things aren’t going your way. Everyone still thinks we can get the job done, it is just sometimes things aren’t in your favor.”
Seiya Suzuki had three hits and two RBIs for the Cubs. Nico Hoerner went 2 for 4 and scored a run.
“This team is going to fight tooth-and-nail every game until the end of the season,” Cubs manager David Ross said.