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Chicago at Atlanta

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Chi. Cubs (26-32) «110000000260
Atlanta (33-28)010000000130

Cubs 2, Braves 1

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Lou Piniella was all smiles in his return to the dugout.

The way Rich Hill pitched, the Chicago Cubs' manager had good reason to be happy after serving a four-game suspension.

Hill matched his career high with 11 strikeouts, giving up three hits in eight innings Thursday night to lead the Cubs over the Atlanta Braves 2-1.

Chicago won for the fourth time in five games, a streak that began a day after Piniella's theatrical argument during Saturday's game against Atlanta at Wrigley Field, which led to his ejection and suspension.

"It's good to win a game, and nice to be back on the field," Piniella said.

Piniella said there is no connection between his outburst and his team's hot streak.

"I believe you get good pitching and play good baseball and get some timely hitting, you win baseball games," said Piniella, who watched his team from the press-box level while serving his penalty.

Hill (5-4), who walked one, matched his strikeout high, set against Pittsburgh last Sept. 6. He beat the Braves for the second time this season and improved to 3-0 in his career against Atlanta.

Each of the 11 strikeouts came with the Braves swinging on strike three, usually lunging in vain while trying to make contact on Hill's sharply breaking curve balls.

"He's got that big curve that he throws for strikes and balls, so you just don't know," Atlanta's Andruw Jones said. "They all have the same rotation, you just don't know which one's going to be for strikes. You just have to be patient or be lucky."

Jones' second-inning homer gave Atlanta its only run.

"I just got lucky," Jones said.

Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 13 tries. Dempster's opportunity came after Piniella lifted Hill for pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd in the top of the ninth. Hill threw 108 pitches and had six strikeouts in his final three innings.

"We've been watching pitch counts very close all year," Piniella said. "When they're in the low 100s, we usually go to our bullpen. It's a long summer."

Hill didn't mind not having the chance for his first complete game of the year.

"Ryan is a great closer; he did a great job," Hill said.

Hill threw eight innings in a 3-0 win over the Braves at Turner Field on April 19. The left-hander wasn't as dominant while giving up three runs -- including one earned run -- in a no-decision in a 5-3 loss to the Braves in Chicago on May 29.

"The last time I faced those guys, it was kind of dig deep," Hill said. "I had to battle through the game. This game it felt good from the start."

Braves manager Bobby Cox was impressed.

"He can really spot the fastball," Cox said. "He's got a great curveball. ... We just couldn't hit Hill hardly at all."

Chuck James (5-5) gave up two runs, six hits and three walks for the Braves, who have lost three straight and five of six.

"I pitched good. He pitched a little bit better," James said. "That's the way it goes sometimes. I'll take seven innings, two runs any day."

Jones led off the second inning with his 10th homer, a fly ball that barely cleared the right-field wall near the foul pole, and was stranded at third base after his fourth-inning single. Atlanta's only other hit off Hill was a two-out single in the seventh by Matt Diaz.

Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a triple over Jeff Francoeur at the right-field wall and scored when Felix Pie's grounder bounced off James' leg into left field for an RBI single.

Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the second when Ryan Theriot beat out an infield hit, moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Cesar Izturis, and scored on Soriano's two-out single..

Notes

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who failed in his bid to buy the Braves, sat beside team president Terry McGuirk. ... Jones was 0-for-8 against Hill before his two hits Thursday night. ... 3B Aramis Ramirez is expected to join the Cubs on Friday after an MRI exam in Chicago on his left knee showed patella tendinitis. Piniella hopes Ramirez can avoid the disabled list.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Atlanta

A. Jones
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Chicago

R. Hill
IP 8.0
H 3
ER 1
BB 1
K 11
 
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF3121100 .315
Felix Pie, CF4011004 .274
Derrek Lee, 1B3000110 .338
Matt Murton, RF3010112 .263
    Angel Pagan, PR-RF0000000 .298
Michael Barrett, C4000013 .239
Mark DeRosa, 3B4000002 .252
Ryan Theriot, 2B4110000 .272
Cesar Izturis, SS3010100 .245
Rich Hill, P2000022 .077
   a- Cliff Floyd, PH1000000 .306
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .000
Totals3126245  
a-popped out for Hill in the 9th
Batting
3B - Alfonso Soriano (4, James)
SH - Rich Hill (3)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano (18), Felix Pie (9)
2-OUT RBI - Alfonso Soriano (7)
Team LOB - 7
Chicago Cubs
Rich Hill (W,5-4) 83111111 2.71
Ryan Dempster (S,12) 1000000 3.25
Pitches-Strikes - Rich Hill 108-75, Ryan Dempster 9-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rich Hill 4-9, Ryan Dempster 3-0
Batters Faced - Rich Hill 28, Ryan Dempster 3
Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B3000110 .286
Yunel Escobar, 3B4000001 .321
Edgar Renteria, SS4000030 .319
Andruw Jones, CF4121010 .224
Jeff Francoeur, RF3000021 .289
Matt Diaz, LF3010011 .333
Brian McCann, C3000011 .275
Scott Thorman, 1B2000010 .226
   a- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, PH1000010 .298
    Rafael Soriano, P0000000 .000
Chuck James, P2000000 .105
    Tyler Yates, P0000000 .000
   b- Chris Woodward, PH-1B1000000 .221
Totals30131111  
a-struck out for Thorman in the 8th
b-flied out for Yates in the 8th
Batting
HR - Andruw Jones (10, Hill)
RBI - Andruw Jones (39)
SB - Andruw Jones (3, 2nd base off Hill/Barrett)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Renteria-Johnson-Thorman
Atlanta Braves
Chuck James (L,5-5) 7622340 3.66
Tyler Yates 1000110 3.58
Rafael Soriano 1000000 2.33
IBB - Soriano by Chuck James
Pitches-Strikes - Chuck James 105-67, Tyler Yates 12-7, Rafael Soriano 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chuck James 9-7
Batters Faced - Chuck James 29, Tyler Yates 4, Rafael Soriano 3
Game Information
Attendance - 32902
Game Time - 2:14
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Charlie Reliford, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Larry Vanover, Third Base - Tony Randazzo