With Chicago leading 9-7 in the top of the ninth inning, Kimbrel -- the veteran closer who signed a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs on June 7 -- emerged from the Cubs' bullpen Thursday afternoon to Guns N'Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" for his team debut.
Kimbrel's first pitch at Wrigley Field was a 97-mph strike to former teammate and Braves catcher Brian McCann. Kimbrel allowed two baserunners but worked out of trouble for his 334th career save.
"The first one's always a tough one," Kimbrel said. "Mentally, I've been kind of slowly going through this. It might take a week or so until I'm settled in. But, it's still good enough right now."
Kimbrel's first Cubs save came against the team he became a star with. He saved 186 games and had a 1.43 ERA in 294 outings with the Braves from 2010 to 2014.
"You know it was going to happen today," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who hit a ground ball for the game's final out. "All things were going to fall into place for him to get in that game."
Chicago moved to 44-37 with Thursday's victory. The first-place Cubs have a one-game lead over the rival Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central Division.