Shortly after a throwing error by Prior, Rafael Furcal hit a
two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning that deflected off
sure-handed Chicago first baseman Derrek Lee as the Braves rallied
Wednesday for a 3-1 victory.
"The ball ate him up. If anybody can make it in all of
baseball, it would be Derrek Lee," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
Prior (9-5) gave up just one hit in the first six innings,
Andruw Jones' single to center in the fourth.
After the Cubs took a 1-0 lead against Braves starter Jorge
Sosa, rookie standout Jeff Francoeur led off the seventh with a
"I felt like it was a big enough moment in the game where we
needed to get something going," Francoeur said. "Right when I hit
it, I figured it was one of my best bunts ever. I was a little
shocked. The last time I tried to bunt I got hit in the face last
When Ryan Langerhans followed with another bunt, Prior attempted
to get the force at second. Instead, he threw it into center field.
"It just kept flying," Prior said.
"Jeff did a great job of hustling and making Prior rush the
throw," Langerhans said.
"I thought he would go to first," Francoeur said. "It was a
break for us that he threw it a little high. It's a tough throw for
The error put runners at first and third, and Langerhans reached
second on Prior's wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche fanned for
the second out of the inning, but Furcal hit a hard shot that Lee
"I can't say I normally get that one. It was a tough hop, kind
of hit or miss," Lee said. "I threw my glove at it, got my glove
on it, but it didn't stick."
Francoeur scored easily and Langerhans also came home, sliding
in ahead of second baseman Todd Walker's throw.
"I kind of looked back, I found the ball and saw that Walker
hadn't quite got there yet, so I just kept going," Langerhans
Furcal then stole second and scored on Marcus Giles' RBI single,
chasing Prior after 131 pitches. He gave up four hits and three
runs in 6 2-3 innings.
"I was probably a little tired," Prior said. "I was looking
for a ground ball and I got it and it took a bad hop."
Starting in place of Mike Hampton who was put on the disabled
list Tuesday night with a sore back, Sosa (9-2) allowed four hits
and a run in six innings. The Cubs' only run came in the third,
when Matt Lawton walked, stole second and scored on Walker's
Sosa escaped a first-inning jam when he dropped a throw for an
error and Walker singled to put runner at first and third with no
outs. But Lee flied out and Aramis Ramirez grounded into a costly
double play -- he strained his left quad muscle running to first and
had to leave the game.
Sosa gave up a leadoff double to Lee in the sixth when his drive
to center bounced off Jones' glove. But after a sacrifice, Sosa
retired Jeromy Burnitz on a short fly and Neifi Perez on a
groundball to strand Lee at third.
"I thought Sosa maybe pitched his best game ever today," Cox
Farnsworth struck out the side in the ninth for his first save
with the Braves.
Ramirez, the team's RBI leader with 92, pulled up and stumbled
over the first-base bag while running out the double play grounder
in the first. He was replaced by Macias to start the second.
Cubs SS Nomar Garciaparra worked out before the game and
the Cubs delayed a decision on whether to put him on the disabled
list with a sore back. Garciaparra was out of the starting lineup
Wednesday for the fifth time in six games. The Cubs are off
Thursday and will see how Garciaparra responds Friday. Ronny Cedeno
was called up from the minors and was in the clubhouse but was not
activated. Garciaparra has already missed 3½ months with a groin
injury and doesn't want to go back on the DL if possible. ...
Hampton is back on the disabled list for a fourth time this season,
sidelined by a sore back. Hampton, who's also been bothered by a
sore forearm this season, had just returned Aug. 14. He had been
hit hard in his two starts since returning, giving up 20 hits and
10 earned runs in 8 1-3 innings. He is eligible to come off Sept.
4. Hampton is 5-3 in just 12 starts with a 3.50 ERA.