Rapid Reaction: Cubs 5, Braves 1

ATLANTA -- The Cubs continue to get the hang of it with their seventh victory in the past nine games after defeating the Atlanta Braves 5-1 on Wednesday.

HOW IT HAPPENED: The Cubs got a second consecutive solid start from Paul Maholm as the left-hander gave up just one run on eight hits over six innings. On offense, the Cubs got the long ball working. Bryan LaHair, Jeff Baker and Anthony Rizzo all hit solo shots. It was LaHair’s 14th, Baker’s second pinch-hit homer and Rizzo’s third overall. The first run of the night came when Starlin Castro swiped home on the back end of a double steal with Rizzo, who was thrown out at second.

WHAT IT MEANS: Rizzo continues to stay hot with LaHair finally starting to come around again. It was only LaHair’s second home run since June 8. Both left-handed hitters talked this spring about how tough it would be to face a lineup of two leftys with so much power and Wednesday was the first time they each hit a home run in the same game.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: At the halfway point, it has been a rough season for the 31-50 Cubs. It’s been much better of late, though, as they have won seven of their last nine games. Breaking down the first half even further and some interesting numbers emerge. Over the first 40 games of the season, the Cubs were 15-25. Over the next 40 games they were again 15-25, showing that they have remained consistent, but not quite the consistency they have been looking for.

OFF BEAT: There hasn’t been much for the Cubs to celebrate of late on the Fourth of July. Wednesday was the first time they won a game on the holiday since 2008. And it’s only the third time in the past 14 games on the Fourth that they have won. Overall it hasn’t been so bad. The Cubs are 117-96-3 on the Fourth of July. Why so many games? It used to be a tradition for clubs to play doubleheaders on the Fourth.

UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Matt Garza (4-6, 4.01 ERA) to the mound Thursday in the finale of the four-game series. The Braves will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (4-6, 6.20) in the 6:10 p.m. CST start from Turner Field.