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Hit batter gives Cubs 3-2 win over reeling Braves

POSTED: June 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.
/The Associated Press

Atlanta Braves closer Jeff Ridgway wipes his face after the Braves' 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs in 11 innings Thursday in Chicago. Ridgway hit pinch-hitter Reed Johnson with the bases loaded in the 11th inning.

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CHICAGO — Jim Edmonds hit a tying homer in the ninth inning, and the Chicago Cubs still lifted him for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded and no outs in the 11th inning.

And here's how it's going for the Cubs at Wrigley Field and the Braves on the road: Atlanta reliever Jeff Ridgway hit Reed Johnson with his first pitch to force in the winning run in Chicago's 3-2 win Thursday.

"It's always hard to win here when you are on the road because the home team is never out of it," said Edmonds, who played for years with the rival Cardinals.

"It's a tough place to play. ... It's great to be a part of it on this side now."

The Cubs won their 11th straight at Wrigley Field and upped their home record to 29-8. In 1907 — the year before the Cubs won their last World Series — they also started their home schedule 29-8 at West Side Grounds.

"I don't believe things go your way. I believe you make things go your way," manager Lou Piniella said.

The Braves have lost six straight and can't seem to win away from Turner Field. They fell to 7-24 on the road this season and have lost their last 21 one-run games on the road since August, matching the longest such streak in major league history.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kansas City lost 21 straight one-run games on the road from 2000-01.

"We have to make plays to save runs," said Chipper Jones, who went 1-for-5 with an intentional walk and his average dropped to .414. "We need to execute. We don't execute. Everybody else executes, we don't.

"Everybody else makes the crucial play. We're struggling with it. ... This loss here had nothing to do with luck. It was just bad baseball, plain and simple."

Jones would also like to see more effort on the road

"It's not easy to win on the road," he said. "You're in a hostile environment and the whole world is against you. You have to bring it every day. I don't know if some of us bring it every day."

Aramis Ramirez drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 11th against Manny Acosta (3-5) and moved up on Brian McCann's passed ball. The Braves intentionally walked Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto followed with a single to left. Third base coach Mike Quade started to wave Ramirez home and then gave him a late stop sign.

With the bases loaded, Ridgway replaced Acosta and hit Johnson with his first pitch.

"If that ball doesn't hit me it probably goes to the backstop. It hit me in the back leg. ... It might have been over anyway, even if didn't hit me," Johnson said.

Edmonds, who also had a sacrifice fly, said he had no problem being removed.

"With a laugh I told him (Johnson) I could do that. I could have taken one off the leg," Edmonds said.

Kerry Wood (3-1) struck out four in two scoreless innings to get the win.

Edmonds lined a 1-0 pitch from Blaine Boyer just over the fence and into the basket in left field in the ninth, his third homer of the season and second since joining the Cubs last month.

Tim Hudson went 6 2-3 innings for Atlanta, allowing seven hits and a run. Hudson was on his way to his eighth win of the season before Boyer, who entered the game in the eighth, picked up his third blown save of the year and the Braves' ninth in 19 chances.

Hudson was battling cramps on a humid 86-degree day.

"I had to take him out. He had to get IVs afterwards," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "His hand, he couldn't bend his fingers. ... His entire body started cramping."

Carlos Zambrano worked seven-plus innings for the Cubs, and was charged with two runs and eight hits.

Zambrano, who had a meltdown in the dugout during his last start in Los Angeles when he threw two water coolers after yielding seven runs, gave up a two-run homer to Jeff Francoeur in the second.

The NL Central-leading Cubs played their first game since losing Alfonso Soriano, who could out for six weeks with a broken hand. Soriano was hit by a pitch from Atlanta's Jeff Bennett on Wednesday night.

Hudson took a five-hit shutout into the seventh. Ramirez hit a leadoff single and reached second when shortstop Yunel Escobar had trouble handling Fukudome's grounder before firing to first to get the out.

Ramirez went to third on Soto's single and scored on Edmonds' sacrifice fly to cut Atlanta's lead to 2-1.

After issuing a four-pitch walk to Mark Teixeira to start the eighth, Zambrano angrily barehanded the return toss from catcher Soto. Reliever Scott Eyre then surrendered a double to McCann and intentionally walked Francoeur to load the bases.

Eyre bounced back to strike out two straight and Carlos Marmol fired a called third strike past pinch-hitter Omar Infante.

<B>Notes:<P> The teams wore replica uniforms from the 1948 season. The Braves were in Boston at the time and won the NL pennant. The Cubs finished in last place. ... Eyre made his 32nd straight appearance — 13th this season — without allowing a run to set a Cubs record. He had shared the mark with Ryan Dempster, who had 31 straight from Aug. 16, 2005 until April 19, 2006.



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