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Atlanta at Chicago

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Atlanta (41-43) «001001002480
Chi. Cubs (41-41)000001000162

Kawakami's strong outing leads Braves over Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Kenshin Kawakami wasn't completely satisfied with one of his best major league outings.

His old teammate had something to do with that.

The 34-year-old rookie allowed only four hits over six innings Wednesday in helping the Atlanta Braves to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

It was just the second time this season Kawakami (5-6) gave up one run or fewer while pitching at least six innings. The run came on a sixth-inning homer by Kosuke Fukudome, whom he played with for nine years with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League.

"He might have taken half of my happiness today," a laughing Kawakami said.

The other half of Kawakami's happiness was preserved by shortstop Yunel Escobar, whose spectacular diving grab of a line drive off Fukudome's bat kept Atlanta ahead 2-1 in the eighth.

"His range is as good as it gets and his arm is awesome," Braves catcher Brian McCann said of Escobar, who made several outstanding plays in the three-game series. "That play he made today saved the game maybe."

The Cubs then gave away two runs in the ninth -- one on center fielder Fukudome's first error of the year and another on Kevin Gregg's wild pitch -- as fans booed the home team.

It was all part of another frustrating day for the Cubs, whose offensive woes left manager Lou Piniella searching for words.

"Frustrating? Look ... what else can I say?" he said. "There's nothing else to say, there really isn't. You've just got to swing the bats better if we're going to do anything the rest of the year, and that's really the bottom line.

"I said it before the ballgame. I get asked the same questions every day -- every day, you know? I think what you need to do is go ask the players why they're not hitting instead of asking me," Piniella added. "They can probably give you much better insight."

Not really. The players also were wondering why a team that led the NL in runs last season is ranked 15th this year.

"The fact of the matter is we just didn't hit," said Ryan Theriot, who had two of Chicago's six hits. "That's baseball. I just think that's the way it is. You're not going to score a ton of runs every game."

Piniella would settle for something similar to the first 35 games, when the Cubs averaged 5.06 runs while going 21-14. Since then, the average has dipped to 3.43 runs and their record has slumped to 20-27. They have been held to one run or fewer 15 times during the 47-game slide.

Asked if he believed the offense would come alive, Theriot said: "Yeah, I think so. I hope so. I don't think you've seen our best for sure. I hope we do."

Several teammates echoed those sentiments and chose to give credit to Kawakami, who left after six innings with minor shoulder soreness.

"I don't think it was something bad because he was throwing the ball so well," manager Bobby Cox said. "It's something he was battling a little bit. But there weren't many balls squared up on him."

Casey Kotchman homered and Martin Prado had an RBI single for the Braves, who won a road series for the first time in nearly two months. After going 0-6 against the Cubs in 2008, Atlanta won this season's series 4-2.

Peter Moylan, Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano each worked a scoreless inning of relief. Soriano earned his 10th save.

Kevin Hart (0-1) was the latest Cubs starter done in by the team's offensive shortcomings. Making his first big league start as a fill-in for injured Ryan Dempster, Hart allowed only one run on four hits over five innings.

Notes

  • The start of the game was delayed 42 minutes by rain. Gametime temperature was a cool 63 degrees.
  • During batting practice, Cubs C Geovany Soto sustained a mild left oblique strain. He was scratched from the lineup and is day to day.
  • Braves 3B Chipper Jones sat out a second straight game with a groin strain. He is day to day.
  • Kawakami entered the game with a 5.65 road ERA.
  • Cubs RHP Carlos Zambrano, Tuesday's losing pitcher, was in the press box more than three hours before Wednesday's game singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game to an empty Wrigley Field.
 
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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Kenshin Kawakami allows just four hits in six innings of work to earn his second win since May 23. (AP)
Kenshin Kawakami allows just four hits in six innings of work to earn his second win since May 23. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

K. Fukudome
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
Atlanta

C. Kotchman
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Atlanta Braves
Nate McLouth, CF5220004 .272
Martin Prado, 3B3121210 .324
Garret Anderson, LF4010113 .274
    Rafael Soriano, P0000000 .000
Brian McCann, C5000014 .300
Yunel Escobar, SS4010001 .292
Casey Kotchman, 1B2111200 .275
Jeff Francoeur, RF4000013 .243
Brooks Conrad, 2B3010101 .357
Kenshin Kawakami, P2000101 .120
    Peter Moylan, P0000000 .000
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000 .000
   a- Gregor Blanco, PH-LF1000010 .190
Totals3348275  
a-struck out for Gonzalez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Nate McLouth (16, Hart), Brooks Conrad (1, Guzman)
HR - Casey Kotchman (4, Guzman)
RBI - Martin Prado (16), Casey Kotchman (31)
2-OUT RBI - Martin Prado (7)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Escobar-Conrad-Kotchman, Prado-Conrad-Kotchman, Escobar-Conrad-Kotchman
Atlanta Braves
Kenshin Kawakami (W,5-6) 6411221 4.26
Peter Moylan (H,13) 1100000 4.15
Mike Gonzalez (H,9) 1100000 3.05
Rafael Soriano (S,10) 1000020 1.55
Pitches-Strikes - Kenshin Kawakami 85-53, Peter Moylan 9-8, Mike Gonzalez 9-7, Rafael Soriano 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kenshin Kawakami 7-7, Peter Moylan 2-0, Mike Gonzalez 2-1
Batters Faced - Kenshin Kawakami 22, Peter Moylan 3, Mike Gonzalez 4, Rafael Soriano 3
Chicago Cubs
Kosuke Fukudome, CF3111101 .265
Ryan Theriot, SS4020002 .291
Derrek Lee, 1B4000022 .279
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010000 .346
Milton Bradley, RF4000012 .236
Jake Fox, LF3010000 .311
Jeff Baker, 2B2000010 .111
   a- Mike Fontenot, PH-2B1000001 .231
Koyie Hill, C2010100 .240
Kevin Hart, P1000000 .000
   b- Micah Hoffpauir, PH1000001 .242
    Angel Guzman, P0000000 .000
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .231
    Aaron Heilman, P0000000 .000
   c- Reed Johnson, PH0000000 .265
    Kevin Gregg, P0000000 .000
Totals2916124  
a-grounded into a double play for Baker in the 7th
b-fouled out for Hart in the 5th
c-hit a sacrifice bunt for Heilman in the 8th
Batting
HR - Kosuke Fukudome (7, Kawakami)
SH - Reed Johnson (1)
RBI - Kosuke Fukudome (27)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Baker-Theriot-Lee, Lee-Theriot-Baker
E - Jake Fox (2, Misplayed grounder), Kosuke Fukudome (1, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
Kevin Hart (L,0-1) 5411530 1.69
Angel Guzman 0.2211001 2.67
Sean Marshall 1.1000110 4.12
Aaron Heilman 1000100 3.57
Kevin Gregg 1220010 3.43
IBB - Conrad by Kevin Hart
WP - Kevin Gregg (6)
Pitches-Strikes - Kevin Hart 89-46, Angel Guzman 21-14, Sean Marshall 16-9, Aaron Heilman 17-9, Kevin Gregg 21-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kevin Hart 5-6, Sean Marshall 1-1, Kevin Gregg 2-0
Batters Faced - Kevin Hart 23, Angel Guzman 4, Sean Marshall 4, Aaron Heilman 4, Kevin Gregg 5
Game Information
Attendance - 40531
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 63
Umpires - Home - Jim Joyce, First Base - Bill Miller, Second Base - Derryl Cousins, Third Base - Todd Tichenor