Braves send woeful Cubs to ninth straight road loss

ATLANTA (AP) -- Lance Cormier never expected to strike out so
many batters.

Cormier pitched seven solid innings and struck out a career-high
10, and Brian McCann doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth to
help the Atlanta Braves beat Chicago 2-1 on Sunday, the Cubs' ninth
straight road loss.

"It was weird. I'm definitely not a strikeout guy," Cormier
said. "The cutter got me most of my strikeouts."

The Braves, who have won the first three games of the four-game
set, began the day five games behind NL wild-card leader San Diego.

Atlanta is 6-0 against the Cubs this season. Going back even
further, the Braves have won 12 of 13 against Chicago, which hasn't
won at Turner Field since April 11, 2004, dropping six in a row.

In addition, it was Chicago's fourth straight loss overall. The
Cubs have dropped 18 of 21.

Cormier (3-4) allowed eight hits and didn't walk anyone. The
only run off the right-hander came on a homer by Freddie Bynum
leading off the sixth.

"The cutter wasn't perfect," Cormier said. "Freddie Bynum
figured it out, but overall it was a good cutter day."

Cormier also matched his career best with the seven innings
pitched and got his first major league hit, a single in the fifth.
He had been 0-for-7.

"It was definitely my best as far as strikeouts go, but I
pitched pretty good last week against Philadelphia, too," Cormier

Against the Phillies, he allowed only three hits and one run in
seven innings, but got a no-decision in Atlanta's 3-1 victory.

This time, Cormier came away with a victory.

"He had some good stuff. He spotted his pitches well and kept
us off balance," Bynum said.

Braves pitchers struck out 15 overall.

Tyler Yates pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out three. Bob
Wickman fanned two in the ninth for his 13th save in 14 attempts.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third on a leadoff double by
Ryan Langerhans, Cormier's sacrifice and an RBI grounder by Willy
Aybar against Juan Mateo (1-3).

Adam LaRoche doubled with two outs in the sixth. McCann, who
struck out in his two previous at-bats, followed with his
run-scoring double to left-center off Mateo.

"I was thinking, just don't strike out a third time. I went
back to the basics and hit the ball the other way. That's the key
to hitting in the majors," said McCann, who is batting .332.

He also had his left hand wrapped after getting hit on his glove
hand when Mateo struck out in the fifth.

"It's just a bruise," McCann said.

X-rays were negative and he isn't expected to miss any time.

Mateo went six innings. The right-hander gave up five hits,
walked two and struck out six.

"He threw a great game. He threw only one bad pitch. That was
the slider he threw to McCann," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Cormier pitched out of a seventh-inning jam after Henry Blanco
led off with a triple to right. Jeff Francoeur attempted a diving
catch, but missed the ball and it went to the wall.

Cormier, however, struck out Ronny Cedeno, got pinch-hitter
Scott Moore on a bouncer to second and struck out Juan Pierre, who
had two hits off Cormier.

"Pierre was a tough guy all day and tough to strike out. I was
not thinking strikeout. I threw a couple of pitches away and he
swung, and got him on a cutter inside," Cormier said.

Game notes
Cormier's previous career high for strikeouts was six at
Florida on Aug. 20. Cormier surpassed that in the third inning when
he fanned Mateo, his fourth straight strikeout. ... Braves SS Edgar
Renteria started and batted third. He didn't play Saturday night
because of a fever. ... Pierre singled in the first and third,
giving him a league-leading 178 hits. ... Francoeur has started all
142 games this season.