Braves vs. Cubs
When: 2:20 p.m. today
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago
Pitchers: Braves, Kenshin Kawakami (4-6, 4.46 ERA); Cubs, Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 3.50)
TV, radio: SportSouth; 102.9 FM
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com, 404-577-9100
Web site: www.atlantabraves.com
CHICAGO — Once again, Javier Vazquez got little offensive backing from his Atlanta Braves’ teammates. This time it was OK. All he needed was two runs to beat the Chicago Cubs.
Vazquez allowed a run and five hits in seven strong innings and Brian McCann had a pair of two-out RBIs Tuesday night as the Braves beat the Cubs 2-1.
"We played great defense today. That’s the first thing I want to say. Great defense out there by everybody and those two runs were enough," said Vazquez, who has received just 11 runs of support over his last eight starts.
"He just pitched like he’s been pitching all year. We were making a joke about it, one (run) should be enough for him," McCann said.
"That’s basically what he’s been getting this year. It was enough tonight."
Backed by some fine infield play from shortstop Yunel Escobar and second baseman Brooks Conrad, Vazquez (6-7) outdueled Carlos Zambrano.
In his last nine starts, Vazquez has two wins — both against the Cubs. He walked none and struck out six. At one point, he retired 13 of 14 batters.
"It feels good that I got the win and we played good baseball today. That’s what it takes," he said.
Zambrano was pitching on three days’ rest, starting in place of Ryan Dempster, who went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a fractured right toe. Dempster was injured when he toppled over a dugout railing to get on the field and celebrate a Cubs’ victory Sunday.
Zambrano (4-4) allowed five hits and two runs in six innings. He hasn’t won since June 6 — a stretch of six starts.
He said the short rest between starts was no big deal. He found out this morning he would be pitching.
"I felt good," Zambrano said.
"I went home yesterday with that mentality, that I could pitch today. I saw Dempster’s toe and to me it didn’t look good."
Nate McLouth walked to lead off the game, moved up on a sacrifice and after he was nearly picked off second, made third on a grounder. McCann then delivered a two-out RBI single. Chicago tied it in the second when Koyie Hill hit a two-out RBI single, the Cubs’ third hit of the inning.
McCann delivered again in the third with a slicing two-out double to score Martin Prado, who singled. McCann is now 7-for-12 lifetime against Zambrano.
"Didn’t know that. I came early today, tried to work on my mechanics," McCann said. "The last four or five games I haven’t felt like I’ve contributed a whole lot. Tonight was good to get a couple hits that meant something in the game."
Mike Gonzalez worked the eighth, surviving a double by Ryan Theriot, and Rafael Soriano got his ninth save in 10 chances by pitching the ninth.
NOTES: Braves 3B Chipper Jones sat out with a groin strain, an injury he got Monday night in the series opener. INF Greg Norton was recalled from his rehab stint and will rejoin the Braves in Colorado to work out but will not be activated from the DL. ... RHP Tim Hudson threw live batting practice and a 5-minute bullpen session for a second straight day and said he felt better Tuesday. He’s trying to come back from Tommy John surgery and is on target for a late July minor league rehab stint. ... RHP Kevin Hart never left town after he was sent to the minors Monday and was back on the big league team much sooner than expected. He got a call to stick around after Dempster was put on the DL. Hart, who has made four relief appearances for the Cubs this season, will make his first major league start Wednesday.