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Skip talk of destiny; Cubs use talent to find ways to win

CHICAGO -- Considering their long history of futility, it's to be expected that the Chicago Cubs' dramatic turnaround has sparked a few over-the-top reactions about them being a team of destiny or in the midst of a magical season. But please, don't bring that kind of talk into the Cubs' clubhouse. The players don't want to hear it.

After the Cubs rallied from a four-run deficit for a 9-7 victory Saturday over the Atlanta Braves -- Chicago's third straight win and second straight late-inning comeback -- Miguel Montero thought a reporter was suggesting the team was fortunate and snapped.

"You think we're lucky? We're good," he said. "I don't think you win 70 games being lucky. You're either [good] or not."

A couple of minutes earlier, Anthony Rizzo was asked about the Cubs' ability to rally repeatedly and had a simple response: "I think it's just the talent here. It could be anyone on any day."

There's little question Saturday's comeback was a team effort. Atlanta took a 7-3 lead with a five-run fifth inning, but the Cubs immediately began chipping away. Kris Bryant had a two-run double and Montero followed with a double to drive in Bryant to trim the deficit to 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth.

Addison Russell then tied the score in the sixth with a solo home run. Montero led off the eighth inning with a solo homer off former Cub Edwin Jackson (2-2) to give Chicago the lead. The next batter, Jorge Soler, also stroked a homer to provide a little insurance.

"Today, we never doubted," Montero said. "I mean, it was just a matter of time. It's definitely a good feeling. The guys know that we can come back in any situation. There was never panic. That's a good sign."

The Cubs, who at 70-51 are one win from going 20 games over .500, also took advantage of the conditions at Wrigley Field. The wind was blowing out to left field and three of the team's four homers -- Rizzo also had a solo shot in the third inning -- were lofted that way.

Both of the back-to-back homers by Montero and Soler landed in the basket attached to the bleachers and probably wouldn't have gone out without the benefit of the jet stream.

"Playing in this park, as many times as I've played, I know once you get the ball in the air, anything is possible," Jackson said.

"We took advantage of it more than they did," Chicago starter Dan Haren said. "We put a couple of balls in the basket."

The reason the Cubs had to rally again was because of another shaky effort by a starter. Haren was yanked with one out in the fifth with runners on the corners. Left-hander Travis Wood was brought in to face two left-handers in the Atlanta lineup.

The move didn't work out as planned because Freddie Freeman doubled in a run and A.J. Pierzynski followed with a base hit off the glove of second baseman Chris Coghlan to drive in two more. Nick Swisher, batting right-handed, then capped the five-run inning with a two-run homer -- his second of the game. The switch-hitting Swisher had a two-run shot in the second off Haren. It's the 14th time in his career he has homered from both sides of the plate in the same game.

Normally, a disastrous inning like that can demoralize a team, but not these Cubs.

"You absorb the body blow, you come back in the dugout and you fight back," manager Joe Maddon said. "And that's what we did."

An overlooked aspect of the comeback was the job the bullpen did after the fifth inning. Tommy Hunter, Clayton Richard, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon combined to hold the Braves scoreless over the final four innings. Strop (2-6) pitched the eighth to get the win, and Rondon had a 1-2-3 ninth for his 23rd save.

As for Haren, the veteran right-hander hasn't completed the fifth inning in his last two starts, but Maddon said he will remain in the rotation as the fifth starter.

"I like Danny a lot," the manager said. "I really believe he's going to be a big help to us down the stretch. He's such a professional. I mean that sincerely. I like this fella, you gotta love his attitude and how he goes about his business.

"It wasn't the right setup for him Saturday, the way their lineup was set up and the way the ballpark played. It made it more difficult. But I have a lot of respect for this guy. You look at his numbers and what he's done, and there's definitely a lot left in the tank."

With the Cubs continuing to find ways to win, Maddon can afford to be patient.