Chicago at Atlanta

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Chi. Cubs (31-51)000010200351
Atlanta (43-39) «40101001x791

Braves ride four-run first past Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- While the Atlanta Braves wore down Matt Garza with home runs and long at-bats, Mike Minor put together a confidence booster heading into the All-Star break.

Jason Heyward and Brian McCann each hit a two-run homer in the first inning, helping Minor and the Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3 on Thursday night.

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Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco also connected for Atlanta, which salvaged a split of the four-game series.

Minor (5-6) held the Cubs without a hit until the fifth and gave up three runs, two earned, and three hits in 6 1/3 innings overall. The left-hander has won back-to-back starts after losing two straight.

"He made his pitches when he needed to," McCann said.

Minor entered with an ugly 6.20 ERA after giving up four runs in each of his previous three starts, putting his rotation spot in jeopardy.

"Every week I'm trying to get better," Minor said.

Due to Minor's struggles, manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked before the game if he needed a good start to protect his place in the rotation. Gonzalez said "every start is important" but said Thursday night's game wasn't especially crucial for Minor.

Gonzalez said after the game Minor should "go into the All-Star break feeling good about himself."

Garza (4-7), who could be one of the top starters on the market ahead of this month's trade deadline, allowed five runs and five hits in four innings. He struck out six and walked three while throwing 94 pitches.

Garza struck out Michael Bourn in the first, but the inning quickly unraveled from there.

Martin Prado hit a one-out single before Heyward drove a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right for his 14th home run. Freeman then singled to right and McCann sent another 1-2 offering over the wall in right for his 10th of the season.

Francisco ended the inning with a 16-pitch at-bat, fouling off pitch after pitch until he finally hit a bouncer to first base.

"A couple pitches hit out of the ballpark and then the 16-pitch at-bat to Francisco kind of killed the whole outing, really," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

Garza threw 44 pitches in the inning.

"I don't think he ever recovered from it," Gonzalez said.

Francisco added another long at-bat in the fourth. He made Garza throw 12 pitches before taking a walk.

"Two at-bats. We kind of got tired of him," Sveum said of Francisco. "Move on to the next guy."

Garza downplayed the effect of Francisco's long at-bats on his short night.

"That's just an at-bat," Garza said. "That's all it is. He battled, I battled. I won the first one, he won the second one. That's all it is."

Freeman had a solo shot in the third and Francisco went deep in the eighth against Manny Corpas.

Atlanta went 5-5 on its longest homestand of the season.

The Cubs' first hit off Minor was a home run by Geovany Soto with one out in the fifth.

"I wasn't really all that worried about the home run," Minor said. "I was trying to throw strikes. McCann set up in the middle and [Soto] hit it."

The Braves answered Soto's shot with a run off Scott Maine in the bottom half. Prado singled, moved to third on Heyward's single and scored on McCann's fly ball to right field.

Anthony Rizzo led off the seventh with a single off Minor, who then walked Alfonso Soriano. Minor struck out Bryan LaHair before he was replaced by Kris Medlen.

Pinch-hitter Reed Johnson delivered a two-out RBI single and Heyward made a wild throw to third base for an error, allowing Soriano to score.

There is new reason for Minor, Randall Delgado and perhaps other Atlanta starting pitchers to be wary. The Braves recently signed four-time All-Star Ben Sheets, who had mixed results for Double-A Mississippi in his first minor league start on Wednesday night. He gave up four runs in five innings but retired the last 10 batters he faced.

Notes

  • The Braves placed LHP Jonny Venters on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow impingement. The team recalled LHP Luis Avilan from Triple-A Gwinnett.
  • Bourn finished second to David Freese of St. Louis in online voting for a spot on the NL All-Star team.
  • Prado has an 11-game hitting streak.
  • Sveum said he will announce Friday if Ryan Dempster will come off the disabled list to start on Sunday against the Mets. Dempster has been on the 15-day DL since June 18 with tightness in his right lat muscle.
  • Atlanta opens a three-game series at Philadelphia on Friday night with Tim Hudson (6-4) facing the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick (2-8).
  • The Cubs will be at the Mets on Friday night with Travis Wood looking for his fourth victory against New York's Johan Santana.
 
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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Jason Heyward (left) connects for a two-run HR in the first inning to help the Braves open up an early 4-0 lead vs. the Cubs. (US Presswire)
Jason Heyward (left) connects for a two-run HR in the first inning to help the Braves open up an early 4-0 lead vs. the Cubs. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

B. McCann
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Chicago

G. Soto
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
David DeJesus, CF4010011 .272
Starlin Castro, SS4000011 .287
Anthony Rizzo, 1B4110010 .314
Alfonso Soriano, LF3100120 .266
Bryan LaHair, RF3000132 .289
Geovany Soto, C3111003 .167
Darwin Barney, 2B2000001 .262
    Scott Maine, P0000000 .000
   a- Reed Johnson, PH1011000 .283
    Manny Corpas, P0000000 .000
Luis Valbuena, 3B3000011 .206
Matt Garza, P1000000 .074
    Jeff Baker, 2B2010000 .253
Totals3035229  
a-singled for Maine in the 7th
Batting
HR - Geovany Soto (6, Minor)
RBI - Geovany Soto (10), Reed Johnson (12)
2-OUT RBI - Reed Johnson (5)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Barney-Rizzo
E - Bryan LaHair (4, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Matt Garza (L,4-7) 4555363 4.32
Scott Maine 2211240 6.59
Manny Corpas 2211011 1.98
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 94-65, Scott Maine 39-25, Manny Corpas 24-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 2-3, Scott Maine 1-1, Manny Corpas 4-1
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 19, Scott Maine 10, Manny Corpas 8
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Bourn, CF3000221 .307
Martin Prado, LF4220013 .325
Jason Heyward, RF4122010 .273
Freddie Freeman, 1B4221012 .259
Brian McCann, C3123010 .230
Dan Uggla, 2B4000032 .225
Andrelton Simmons, SS3000110 .302
Juan Francisco, 3B3111101 .226
Mike Minor, P2000111 .037
    Kris Medlen, P0000000 .250
    Eric O'Flaherty, P0000000 .000
   a- Eric Hinske, PH1000000 .204
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
Totals31797511  
a-grounded out for O'Flaherty in the 8th
Batting
HR - Jason Heyward (14, Garza), Freddie Freeman (11, Garza), Brian McCann (10, Garza), Juan Francisco (6, Corpas)
SF - Brian McCann (2)
RBI - Jason Heyward 2 (41), Freddie Freeman (48), Brian McCann 3 (38), Juan Francisco (18)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Francisco-Uggla-Freeman, Simmons-Uggla-Freeman
E - Jason Heyward (3, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Mike Minor (W,5-6) 6.1332261 5.97
Kris Medlen 0.2100000 3.02
Eric O'Flaherty (H,14) 1100010 3.07
Craig Kimbrel 1000020 1.45
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Minor 101-58, Kris Medlen 9-6, Eric O'Flaherty 10-7, Craig Kimbrel 12-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Minor 4-8, Kris Medlen 1-1, Eric O'Flaherty 1-0, Craig Kimbrel 1-0
Batters Faced - Mike Minor 23, Kris Medlen 3, Eric O'Flaherty 3, Craig Kimbrel 3
Game Information
Attendance - 24408
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 96
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Mike DiMuro, Third Base - Jim Reynolds