Cubs, Braves fall due to plate woes

Cubs, Braves fall due to plate woes

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 6:11 pm
By: By The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves found a new way to struggle. The Chicago Cubs just kept on flailing the same old way.
A night after a near-flawless performance on the heels of a four-error debacle, the Braves were one-hit by a recent callup and the Florida Marlins’ bullpen in a 1-0 loss Tuesday night, while Chicago failed to score more than two runs for the fifth time in six games since the All-Star break, losing 9-2 in Arizona.
In Tuesday’s other NL games, it was: Philadelphia 8, New York 6; Milwaukee 4, St. Louis 3; Cincinnati 4, San Diego 3 in 11 innings; Pittsburgh 8, Houston 2; Colorado 10, Los Angeles 1, and San Francisco 6, Washington 3.
Rick VandenHurk returned from a long stay in the minor leagues with a slider that baffled the Braves through five hitless innings.
Chipper Jones singled off reliever Joe Nelson to lead off the sixth, but no other Atlanta player got a hit all night.
VandenHurk (1-1) threw 94 pitches, mixing in a 95 mph fastball and a curve with his vexing slider.
“I used it tonight and just tried to throw something off-speed that I could throw for strikes consistently,” VandenHurk said.
The Braves were without manager Bobby Cox, who served a one-game suspension for a tirade he threw in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Nationals.
With the game scoreless, VandenHurk got into a jam when he walked three in a row to start the fourth inning. He struck out Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson, and Mark Kotsay popped out.
“He gave us a chance, and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Cox said.
VandenHurk was sent to the minors in early April after giving up seven runs in 51/3 innings in his first two starts of the season.
He was recalled to replace left-hander Andrew Miller, who was placed on the disabled list last week because of a sore knee.
“One time he’s up, the next time he paints the corner. He was very effectively wild,” said the Braves’ Jeff Francoeur, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
The Cubs were also done in by a recent addition to the rotation. Yusmeiro Petit made his second big-league start of the season — one night after learning he was scheduled for it.
The short notice didn’t diminish his effectiveness in five innings and Conor Jackson drove in three runs with a solo homer and two-run double for Arizona.
The Cubs are 1-4 since the All-Star break and have lost five of six.
“Sometimes your luck is just not there,” Daryle Ward said. “Maybe we need some holy water or something. I don’t know.”
Chicago’s three, four and five hitters — Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Jim Edmonds — were a combined 0-for-10.
“It’s only July. I don’t see where you should be pressing,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We’re just not hitting with men on base, and when the middle part of your lineup’s not driving in runs, it becomes a little bit of a scuffle. That’s exactly what’s happened.”
Brewers 4, Cardinals 3
In St. Louis, Bill Hall homered to snap a late-inning tie for the second straight game and Milwaukee won its sixth straight.
Ryan Ludwick hit the longest home run at three-year-old Busch Stadium for the Cardinals, who have lost two straight after winning five in a row.
Kyle Lohse went eight innings but squandered a three-run lead and missed a chance to win his 10th straight decision.
Phillies 8, Mets 6
In New York, So Taguchi and Jimmy Rollins had two-run doubles in a six-run ninth, and Philadelphia rallied against New York’s makeshift bullpen to take over first place in the NL East.
After Johan Santana pitched eight dominant innings, the Mets had to make do without closer Billy Wagner, who had an MRI on his shoulder earlier on Tuesday.
Reds 4, Padres 3
In Cincinnati, Jeff Keppinger’s one-out double in the 11th sent the Reds to a rare victory in a game started by San Diego’s Jake Peavy.
Jay Bruce started the rally with a one-out single off Bryan Corey (1-3). Keppinger doubled for Cincinnati’s 10th walkoff win, most in the majors.
Peavy, the reigning Cy Young winner, is 6-0 in nine career starts against the Reds with a 2.31 ERA.
Pirates 8, Astros 2
In Houston, Paul Maholm went eight innings and Freddy Sanchez homered for the second straight game for Pittsburgh.
Ryan Doumit hit a three-run homer and Nate McLouth added a solo shot.
Maholm (7-6) allowed one run and five singles to win for the fifth time in six decisions.
Rockies 10, Dodgers 1
In Denver, Ubaldo Jimenez threw a four-hitter in his first career complete game and Ian Stewart homered and drove in four runs for Colorado.
Brad Hawpe had three hits, including his 16th homer, Stewart had three hits and Jeff Baker had four hits for the Rockies, who had 18 hits one night after they had 20.
Jimenez (6-9) retired 13 straight at one point and 15 of the first 16 batters in winning for the fifth time in his last seven starts.
Giants 6, Nationals 3
In San Francisco, Bengie Molina hit a two-run homer and a solo shot, and Barry Zito won his second straight decision for San Francisco.
Zito (5-12) won consecutive decisions for the first time this season. He struck out five and walked three in six solid innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.
San Francisco ended a four-game home losing streak with its fifth win in the last 19 home games.

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