Dansby Swanson burns sage throughout ballpark to spark Atlanta Braves out of slump

ATLANTA -- The Braves were eager to make up for their embarrassing performance the previous day, so they brought in a little extra help. Call it the power of sage.

Atlanta scored four runs in the first inning, Freddie Freeman added a three-run homer and Atlanta overcame a grand slam by Kris Bryant to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-7 Monday night.

The Braves were coming off two shutout losses to Arizona the previous afternoon -- managing just a single hit over 14 innings. Madison Bumgarner held Atlanta without a hit in his seven-inning victory, though it did not qualify as an official no-hitter.

Looking for any edge in a superstitious sport, Dansby Swanson burned sage throughout the bowels of Truist Park before the game, hoping the herb would spark the team.

It sure seemed to work. The Braves finished with 10 hits.

Heck, Swanson even hit an opposite-field homer.

"Every bit of area I could find in this place, I went into,'' Swanson said. "I might have to bring some tomorrow, too.

Swanson said it wasn't his first time burning sage, noting that he and his girlfriend, U.S. women's national soccer team forward Mallory Pugh, have done so when moving into a new house, or at times when "you feel like you need to cleanse the air a little bit."

"All year, I've been like if it gets to a point, I'm bringing sage in here -- and I think yesterday was finally to that point," Swanson said. "I pretty much walked every bit of area you can find in this place, I went into. It was fun."

Manager Brian Snitker, on the other hand, said Monday marked his first experience with burning sage.

"(Swanson) had to put it right under my nose because I'm so clogged up with the pollen and everything, I couldn't even smell it," Snitker said. "I'll plant some of it. I could put sage in soup."

The Braves pounded Zach Davies for four runs and five hits in the very first inning. Travis d'Arnaud's two-run single was the biggest blow.

"It was nice to get four runs in the first inning, calm everyone down,'' Freeman said.

The Cubs tied it on Bryant's sixth career grand slam, a shot off Charlie Morton that landed in the Chicago bullpen with two outs in the third.

"I really believed we were going to win the game after that,'' Cubs leadoff man Nico Hoerner said.

But Freeman broke a 5-all tie with a mammoth, two-out shot of his own, driving one deep into the right-field seats against Brandon Workman.

Freeman got the Braves' only hit Sunday, a single off Zac Gallen in the opener of the twin bill.

Morton scraped out the win, despite surrendering five runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Willson Contreras hit a two-run homer off Tyler Matzek in the seventh, but three other Braves relievers combined to preserve the win. Will Smith worked around a walk in the ninth for his fifth save.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.