Once again: take the out, stupid. Yesterday, the Braves lost partly because of not taking a sure out, but played so poorly otherwise that it maybe didn’t matter. Today, the Cubs lost more directly because of not taking a sure out.
The Braves once again were held hitless through the first three until Andruw finally broke it up with a single. But they couldn’t mount any sort of rally until the seventh. Francoeur (who had already drawn his first unintentional walk earlier in the game) had a bunt single leading off. Langerhans bunted to follow, apparently meaning to sacrifice. But Mark Prior tried to get the out at second, which is a dumb play most of the time, and ninety-five percent of the time when you’re winning and pitching a shutout and about to face the bottom of the order. He threw it into center, first and third, nobody out.
He almost got out of it. He struck out McCann, then the pinch-hitting LaRoche (who didn’t even have to worry about the double play after a wild pitch moved Langerhans to second). But Furcal hit an infield single off of Derrek Lee’s glove, and Langerhans hustled from second to get the lead. Furcal then stole second (for the second time in the game; he is five behind Otis Nixon’s Atlanta career record now) and scored on a Giles single.
Jorge Sosa had given the Braves six more strong innings, striking out three, walking two, and allowing but four hits. A two-out rally in the third produced the Cubs’ only run on a walk and a double. Blaine Boyer pitched the seventh, striking out two. Foster got the first two in the eighth. Farnsworth then came in and allowed a flare double to Lee that Andruw couldn’t quite get to but got the next man to end the inning. He went 3-0 on the first three batters of the ninth, but rallied to strike the first two out, then after walking the third struck out Barrett, pinch-hitting, to end it.
All the rest of the action is of course at night… The Braves have a day off before playing three in Milwaukee. An honest to goodness day off, since it’s a short flight and they’ll surely be there tonight. Kolb will probably be able to tell them everything to do in Milwaukee and it might take him ten minutes. Ramirez is to face — oh, no — Ben Sheets in the opener.