ATLANTA -- Randy Wells and the Cubs called on their Georgia connections to give Chicago its first win of the season.
Tyler Colvin, who was born in Augusta, Ga., and Marlon Byrd, from Sprayberry High near Atlanta, hit home runs and Wells pitched six scoreless innings to lead the Cubs past the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Thursday night.
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Carlos Marmol stranded two baserunners in the ninth inning for his first save.Atlanta's Chipper Jones left the game after the third inning with a strained right oblique and said he may miss the team's weekend series at San Francisco.Colvin and Byrd said they grew up as Braves fans. Colvin's hometown is across the state line in North Augusta, S.C. He said it was easy to pull for the Braves as a kid."It's only about two hours away," said Colvin, making his first start. "It's an easy drive."Added Byrd: "I love the Braves."Colvin hit his first major league homer in the second inning. Colvin, who hit .468 in spring training to win a roster spot, gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with the shot into the right field seats. He started for Alfonso Soriano in left field.A fan threw the home-run ball back onto the field. A ball boy then tossed the ball into the stands by the right-field line as Cubs players yelled from the edge of the dugout for Colvin's souvenir to be saved."If I get it, I'll send it to my granddad and let him put it up somewhere," Colvin said.Byrd's fourth-inning homer increased the lead to 2-0. The Cubs managed only four hits."I had to get some hits before I get to Chicago, or I'd get some boos," said Byrd, who spent the last three seasons with the Rangers. Byrd signed a three-year deal with the Cubs as a free agent.Wells, who combined with four relievers on the eight-hit shutout, outpitched Tommy Hanson in a matchup of top 2009 rookies. The Cubs avoided a three-game sweep.John Grabow, who gave up Jones' two-run homer in the eighth inning of the Braves' 3-2 win on Wednesday night, was called on in the eighth again. He walked Brian McCann, the only batter he faced, to put runners on first and second.Marmol ended the inning when Troy Glaus grounded out to third base."It was the same situation in the eighth inning as last night, except Chipper Jones wasn't in the lineup," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella.Marmol gave up a leadoff single to Yunel Escobar in the ninth. Rookie Jason Heyward, who was 0 for 4, struck out on three pitches before Marmol walked Nate McLouth.Pinch-hitter Eric Hinske hit a fly ball to deep center field which allowed Escobar to advance to third base, but Marmol struck out Melky Cabrera to end the game.Wells (1-0) allowed six hits with two walks and stranded three runners on third base."He just commanded both sides of the zone, didn't give in," McCann said. "His splitter was filthy. I had a hard time picking his splitter up, making the difference between his split and his fastball."Wells left runners on first and third in the second inning and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third when Troy Glaus hit into a double play to end the inning. Escobar hit into a double play with runners on first and third to end the sixth inning."A couple of innings I got out of whack and let some runners on base," Wells said."I went out just trying to make a quality start. It's nice to get off to a good start."Hanson (0-1), third in the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year voting, gave up four hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Wells was sixth.Jones said he first felt pain in his side during batting practice. He said it "really stung" after taking a big swing in the third inning. He remained in the game, drew a walk from Wells and was forced out at third later in the inning.Omar Infante replaced Jones to start the fourth inning.Martin Prado had three hits for Atlanta.Braves manager Bobby Cox used the same lineup for the third straight game. Outfielder Matt Diaz, expected to share time in left field, may start at San Francisco on Friday against left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.Piniella said he'll continue to find playing time in the outfield for Colvin and Xavier Nady. Piniella said he plans to start Nady at Cincinnati on Friday.
Cubs LHP Sean Marshall retired the only two batters he faced while appearing in his third straight game. Esmailin Caridad added a scoreless inning behind Marshall. ... Cubs LHP Ted Lilly has a stiff back and won't make his scheduled minor league rehabilitation start for Triple-A Iowa on Friday. The start was pushed back to Sunday. Lilly is on the 15-day disabled list as he recovers from shoulder surgery. ... The Braves claimed RHP Cristhian Martinez off waivers from Florida and assigned Martinez to Triple-A Gwinnett. Martinez, 28, was 1-1 with a 5.13 ERA in 15 games, all in relief, with Florida in 2009.