Cubs 'turn page' on Suzuki's error, gear up for wild-card battle

ATLANTA -- It might go down as the play that cost the Chicago Cubs a playoff spot in the National League.

With two outs and two on for the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning on Tuesday and the Cubs nursing a 6-5 lead, right fielder Seiya Suzuki missed a routine fly ball off the bat of catcher Sean Murphy, allowing the tying and eventual winning runs to score.

Afterward, Suzuki said the lights at Truist Park played a part in the error, but he refused to use that as an excuse.

"I was seeing it pretty well until the very last second," Suzuki said through his interpreter. "I honestly thought it went into my glove. So it was just that split second where I blurred my vision.

"Ever since I was playing in Japan you do have to take that [the lights] into consideration. ... If I do say that, then it's an excuse, so I'm not going to say that."

Suzuki's miscue was the finishing touch on a comeback win by the Braves, who hit their 300th and 301st home runs of the season, the most ever by a National League team. They were down 6-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning but chased Cubs ace Justin Steele and then got to Chicago's bullpen, putting themselves in a position to take the lead on Suzuki's error.

"It happens to every single one of us," reliever Drew Smyly said. "We've all made errors. All we can do is turn the page and come back tomorrow. We have five more games. Seiya has been one of the best hitters in the league this whole month. He's been carrying the team. We all support him and have his back."

Smyly didn't help matters as he walked two hitters in the fateful eighth inning but nearly escaped without any damage. Instead, the Cubs lost the chance to control their destiny in the NL wild-card race. If both they and the Miami Marlins win out, Miami would be in the playoffs thanks to an edge in the tiebreaker. The Marlins' game against the Mets was rained out on Tuesday, so they'll play a doubleheader on Wednesday while the Cubs take on the Braves again.

The play was reminiscent of a similar gaffe by former Cubs left fielder Brant Brown, who famously dropped a ball during the playoff race in 1998. Brown is now the hitting coach of the Marlins.

Manager David Ross was asked how bad the loss hurt considering how the game ended and what's at stake.

"They all hurt," he said. "It wouldn't matter if we got blown out today. They all stink.

"Seiya has carried us for a month and a half. He's put us on his back. We're not going to highlight one mistake."

Suzuki has been the team's hottest hitter since August while hitting .376 this month. He singled and tripled before his error on Tuesday, then struck out in the ninth just minutes after missing the ball in right.

"These games are really, really important for us," Suzuki said. "The fact that we dropped it is not the best result that we want right now. Those errors out there in the outfield don't always lead to the best result. I feel I need to hold a better consciousness when I go out there and just focus on my game.

"I'll reflect on it tonight. Only tonight. If I dwell on it tomorrow, I'm not going to give a positive vibe to the team and I'm not going to be able to contribute to the team tomorrow."

Smyly added: "If it happened in the first inning, it probably would not be a story. We have five more [games]. We need to dig deep."