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Chicago Cubs Fail to Capitalize on Opportunities, Drop Series Opener to Atlanta Braves

August 23rd, 2011 at 12:36 AM
By Cody Fields

The Atlanta Braves have not given up a run in their last 26 innings, and Jair Jurrjens somehow did not ruin the streak with one of his ugliest lines of the year. Regardless, the Braves shut out the Chicago Cubs 3-0 in the first of four games.

Jurrjens gave up eight hits and surrendered five walks in 6 1/3 innings while somehow giving up no runs Monday. Of course, when one's opponent goes 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and leaves 15 men on base, that team's chances of winning skyrocket.

"We escaped a lot of jams today," Fredi Gonzalez said. "They got on base a lot and we were able to make the pitches we had to."

Jurrjens was in trouble almost as soon as he started pitching when he start the bottom of the first inning with a walk to Darwin Barney. Blake DeWitt then grounded out to Dan Uggla to move Barney to second. Aramis Ramirez followed with one of his three hits in the game, but Barney remained at third long enough for Carlos Pena to walk and Marlon Byrd to ground into an inning-ending double play.

And so the night went for the Cubs.

A similar fate for the Cubs lay in the fifth inning, when they pounded out three straight two-out singles and failed to score.

The Braves also had a scare in the sixth inning when the pinch hitting Tony Campana drag bunted, resulting in Jurrjens attempting to slide to field the ball. It appeared his right knee was jammed, and Jurrjens walked gingerly on it momentarily before walking Barney and inducing an inning-ending groundout from DeWitt.

Meanwhile, the Braves also went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position but mostly relied on the longball to get things done. Freddie Freeman got things started in the second when he teed off on the first pitch he saw from Ryan Dempster and desposited his 18th homer into the Wrigley Field blachers. Martin Prado later drove in Jose Constanza in the third with a forceout before Uggla parked his 30th homer of the year on Waveland Ave. in the sixth.

With his home run, Uggla became the first second baseman with five 30-homer seasons.

"Who’d have thought, right? I guess that’s where I’ve got to hit them against this team," Uggla said. "If I keep hitting them in the park, Barney’s going to catch it and get me out somewhere. So I think I’ll try to hit it where they can’t catch ‘em."

With Craig Kimbrel getting the night off, Jonny Venters would close the game in dramatic fashion. He started by walking DeWitt and Ramirez, but got Pena and Byrd to strike out swinging before getting Alfonso Soriano to hit a grounder up the middle, which was fielded by Alex Gonzalez who dove to tag second base his glove for the last out.

Jose Constanza exited the game in the sixth game when he rolled his ankle on first base while legging out an infield hit. He is listed as day-to-day. Jason Heyward will resume his starting right field duties in the meantime.

The win kept the Braves on pace with the Philadelphia Phillies at 6.5 games out of first place and boosted them to 8.5 games on top of the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card race.

Atlanta will look to Mike Minor (3-2, 4.26 ERA) to extend their winning streak to six games, and the Cubs will rely on Casey Coleman (2-3, 7.43 ERA) to get them back on track at 8:05 EDT.

Tags: Alex Gonzalez, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, Jair Jurrjens, Jonny Venters, Jose Constanza, MLB

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