R.A. Dickey finally lost a home start.
After going unbeaten in his past eight trips to the SunTrust Park mound, the Braves’ offense couldn’t bail out Dickey, losing 7-2 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
Dickey threw seven innings, allowing four earned runs. He hadn’t given up a home run since June 13 (37 innings), but allowed two this time around.
Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said despite the results, he thought Dickey’s knuckleball was working well. Dickey agreed, pointing to his walks and weak contact-hits as reason for his demise.
“I felt similarly,” Dickey said. “If I reflect on the outing, there were about four pitches I felt like could’ve been better. But usually, you get away with one or two of those four. … I felt that I pitched pretty well. A lot better than our results might reflect.”
One homer came from Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery, who blasted a pitch into the Chop House.
“That’s the first time in my career a pitcher has swung at a 2-0 pitch with nobody on, when the first two guys got out on three pitches,” Dickey said. “Normally the pitcher’s going to take, especially one that didn’t have a hit all year. So he ambushed me there. I’ve got to tip my hat. I kind of laid it in there thinking he wasn’t going to swing, and he put a good swing on it.”
The Cubs had seven hits off Dickey after Arizona had eight off the knuckleballer July 14. Before that, Dickey hadn’t allowed more than six hits since June 13, when Washington plastered him for eight runs in five innings.
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell opened the scoring with an RBI double in the second inning. Montgomery hit a 376-foot homer in the fifth, and former Braves infielder Tommy La Stella added another long ball in sixth.
“He did a good job,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He kept us in the ballgame … I don’t expect him to just be perfect all the time. That’s a good job keeping the game where we can get at it. So, it’s more the fact we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
Dickey had a 1.09 ERA over his previous five starts. Only the Dodgers’ Alex Wood had been better (0.72). Since June, Dickey had a 1.00 ERA at home (four starts).
His streak of five consecutive games allowing no more than one run was the longest by a Brave since Aaron Harang in 2014. The only Braves who had longer such runs were Kris Medlen (2012) and Mike Hampton (2004), who both made it seven games.
Through completing the sixth, Dickey amassed 2,000 career innings, becoming the 14th active player to do so.
“The one thing I’ve always tried to do is be a dependable, trustworthy asset to a team,” he said. “And if you’re throwing 2,000 innings, you’ve probably done that for a stretch in your career. So for me, that’s what that means to me. That I had a goal, have a goal, to be dependable. … So I’m thankful for that.”
Dickey’s cumulative 2017 ERA is 4.14. Most of the damage came earlier in the season, when he allowed three or more earned runs in 10 of his first 13 starts.
At 42 years old, Dickey is thankful he’s still giving a team innings.
“My stuff is there,” he said. “And I’m thankful for that. It takes a little bit more in between outings to get my body right. Today was tough … but we have to get right back after it. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, and we have a tough stretch coming up.”
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