Cubs

Jason Hammel suffers second loss of season as Cubs fall to Braves

Jason Hammel suffers second loss of season as Cubs fall to Braves

ATLANTA (AP) — Bud Norris is determined to stay in Atlanta's rotation.

He made a good case with a dominant win over baseball's best team.

Norris pitched seven strong innings, Adonis Garcia and Tyler Flowers hit home runs and the Atlanta Braves beat Jason Hammel and the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Friday night.

Making his second start since returning to the rotation, Norris (2-7) allowed one run on four hits and no walks with six strikeouts. He gave up only one hit in his last four innings.

The quality start was no surprise to Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

"I mean, the guy just pitches really well whenever I've seen him," Maddon said. "I've not seen him pitch poorly, ever, I don't think. He should actually paste my picture underneath the bill of his hat."

Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said Norris "was great" and will receive at least one more start.

Norris lost his spot in the rotation in late April. He made 12 relief appearances before returning to a starting role when Mike Foltynewicz was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 4 with right elbow soreness.

Norris said he used his time in the bullpen to sharpen his mechanics.

"I'm happy with the time I spent down there to help the club, but obviously this is where I want to be and this is where I feel I can help the most," Norris said.

Garcia and Flowers gave the weak-hitting Braves back-to-back homers for the first time this season. Garcia's homer off Hammel (7-2) with one out in the second inning barely cleared the center-field wall. Flowers followed with a homer high over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

The two homers lifted the Braves' meager total to 25, easily the fewest in the majors.

The Cubs were without first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was removed from the lineup due to tightness in his back. Manager Joe Maddon said Rizzo's status is "absolutely day to day."

Jim Johnson pitched a perfect eighth. Arodys Vizcaino got the final three outs, two on strikeouts, for his eighth save.

Albert Almora Jr. doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Dexter Fowler's groundout in the third inning for the Cubs' only run.

Hammel allowed three runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Theo Epstein on Manny Machado rumors: 'It's honestly something we're looking at and just rolling our eyes at'

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USA TODAY

Theo Epstein on Manny Machado rumors: 'It's honestly something we're looking at and just rolling our eyes at'

Despite the MLB trade deadline being two months away, rumors of the Cubs potentially acquiring Orioles' shortstop Manny Machado have intensifed recently. Regardless, Cubs president Theo Epstein made his point on the rumor frenzy quite clear Thursday.

"I can say with regards to this particular spasm of media frenzy, it is outrageously outsized when you compare it to the reality of the situation," Epstein said Thursday on 670 The Score.

Machado is having an unbelievable season with the Orioles, hitting .328 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs entering Thursday. If traded, he would undoubtedly provide a boost to any ballclub, but that is a big "if."

Of course, the MLB season is not even two months old yet, which Epstein pointed out as being a big factor in the situation.

"It's May," he said. "We're still figuring out who we are as a team this year. We're still figuring out our place in the division.

"There's an atypical amount of trade discussion in May this year, which is essentially nil."

Rumors of the Cubs being a potential player in acquiring Machado make sense. At 15-34, the Orioles have the worst winning percentage (.306) in the MLB. With their current positioning, trading Machado could start a rebuild that the Orioles might just need. The Cubs have a 24-year-old shortstop in Addison Russell that the Orioles could acquire to a) replace Machado and b) use as the face of their rebuild.

Be that as it may, Epstein said the rumors are something that the Cubs are "just rolling our eyes at."

"I understand it's natural for people to connect the dots and there to be this kind of frenzy from time to time, but it's honestly something we're looking at and just rolling our eyes at," he said. "It's not like July, where every now and then there's lots of coverage on deals that are actually being discussed or actually might happen.

"This one is just out there in fantasy land at this point."

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

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Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

Albert Almora Jr. joins Kelly Crull on the Cubs Talk Podcast to weigh in on a variety of topics, including his budding bromance with rumored Cubs target Manny Machado, his expanded role and how he spends his time off away from the ballpark.

Plus, Almora has a surprise pick for the organization’s unsung hero, stating the Cubs would’ve never won the World Series without this guy.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: