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Braves' comeback effort falls short
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Braves vs. Cubs

When: 7 tonight

Where: Turner Field, Atlanta

Pitchers: Braves, Jair Jurrjens (5-2, 2.59 ERA); Cubs Carlos Zambrano (3-2, 4.22)

TV, radio: SportSouth; 102.9 FM

Tickets:, 404-577-9100

Web site:

ATLANTA Pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir blooped an RBI single to left field in the 11th inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Wednesday night.

Derrek Lee started the 11th by drawing a walk from Jeff Bennett (2-3), then pulled off a nifty bit of baserunning to reach second. On a routine fly to left, Lee caught Matt Diaz off guard by tagging up and just beating a delayed throw to the bag.

Lee stopped at third on a single by Reed Johnson but came home when Hoffpauir looped a single just over the head of third baseman Chipper Jones.

The Braves, who rallied from five runs down the previous night to win 6-5 in the 12th, couldn’t pull off another comeback. Kevin Gregg bounced back from blowing that one to set down Atlanta in order, earning his ninth save in 11 chances.

Angel Guzman (2-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings. Both starters — Chicago’s Ted Lilly and Atlanta’s Derek Lowe — pitched seven strong innings.

The Cubs jumped ahead in the fourth on Mike Fontenot’s two-run double.

The Braves, held to one hit through the first four innings by Lilly, rallied to tie it on Brian McCann’s run-scoring single in the sixth and Jones’ pinch-hit double in the seventh.

Atlanta was held hitless for 6 Ã innings the previous night by rookie Randy Wells, showing why it wanted another hitter such as Nate McLouth.

To get him, the Braves sent three prospects to the Pirates: outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, along with pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke.

The Braves strung together four singles against Lilly in the sixth, including McCann’s RBI hit. Jeff Francoeur, who hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth the previous night that sent the game to extra innings, struck out with the bases loaded.

But Atlanta tied it in the seventh. Gregor Blanco tried to bunt his way on, and wound up reaching when Lilly threw into the dirt at first for an error. Up came Jones, who wasn’t in the lineup against the left-handed Lilly because a sore toe hinders the switch-hitter when he bats from the right side.

Jones wasn’t worried about the pain when he launched a drive to left-center, just out of the reach of Reed Johnson for a double that brought Blanco around all the way from first. Jones hobbled into second base and clapped his hands hard several times, a rare show of emotion for the most senior member of the team.

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