Appearing in just his third major league game, the second baseman
delivered a two-out single in the ninth inning, stole second and
scored the winning run on right fielder Justin Ruggiano's base hit
as the Cubs claimed a 5-4 victory on Friday in the opener of a
"I was happy (Alcantara) did that. I was kind of hoping he would do
that," said Ruggiano, who lined a pitch foul before his single to
left field. "It's stuff you used to do as a kid playing whiffle ball
in the back yard and you make believe the situation and now it's
"You live for those kind of things."
Alcantara, hitless entering the ninth after going 4-for-5 on
Thursday, singled through the hole at second with two out and stole
second before Ruggiano's winning hit.
"Alcantara's a good player and I know a couple of guys on their
coaching staff and they really, really like him," Braves manager
Fredi Gonzalez said. "And I've seen Ruggiano a lot of times and he
can do that to you."
The Cubs led 4-3 in the ninth before right-handed reliever Hector
Rondon gave up a two-out single to catcher Christian Bethancourt to
score right fielder Jason Heyward from third for a 4-4 tie.
Rondon (2-3) picked up the win with one inning of work. Braves
right-handed reliever Jordon Walden (0-1) took the loss after
working two-thirds of an inning.
The victory was the second straight for the Cubs. The Braves dropped
their fifth in six games in the opener of a three-game homestand
leading into the All-Star Game break.
Cub starter Jake Arrieta had no decision after pitching 7 2/3
innings. He departed with two runners on and two outs in the eighth.
Right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez struck out left fielder Justin
Upton on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Braves starter Alex Wood escaped a loss after pitching 5 1/3
The Braves took a 3-2 lead -- their first of the game -- in the top
of the sixth inning as first baseman Freddie Freeman's double to
deep center drove in Wood from second base to make it 3-2.
But Wood got in a jam in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases
with none out for left fielder Chris Coghlan, who singled home first
baseman Anthony Rizzo from third to tie the score.
Wood left in favor of right-hander Shae Simmons, who walked
pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena to score Castro for the go-ahead run and
a temporary 4-3 Cubs lead.
Chicago opened a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Arrieta's
sacrifice bunt down the first-base line scored Coghlan from third
with none out. Third baseman Mike Olt advanced to second and came
home on Ruggiano's two-out single to left-center field.
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The Braves got both runs back in the fourth inning. Center fielder
Jordan Schafer scored on Freeman's grounder to second. Andrelton
Simmons, whose double to deep right was the Braves' first hit of the
game, crossed the plate on on Upton's sacrifice to Arrieta.
The seventh inning was key for Arrieta. He gave up a leadoff double
to Heyward but got the next three batters out.
"Getting out of that inning was probably the key, not letting them
push across another run," Arrieta said.
Wood allowed three earned runs, five hits and three walks with six
strikeouts. Arrieta gave up three runs and four hits while walking
three and striking out six in 7 2/3 innings.
Coghlan went 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the sixth inning to tie
the score. Shortstop Starlin Castro followed by walking and forcing
home a go-ahead run for a temporary 4-3 lead.
Ruggiano went 2-for-5 and Heyward was 2-for-4 for Atlanta.
NOTES: The Braves met the Cubs for the fourth time in six scheduled
meetings this season. They had already swept Chicago in three games
dating to May 9-11 in Atlanta. ... Braves C Evan Gattis, out since
July 1 with a bulging disk in his back, traveled to Rome, Ga., for a
checkup and take some swings as part of his rehab. ... Braves 1B
Freddie Freeman extended his new on-base streak to two against the
Cubs on Friday with a sixth-inning RBI double. He had a 26-game
streak snapped on Thursday in New York, then went 2-for-4 with an
RBI double on Thursday. ... OF B.J. Upton needs one RBI to hit 500
for his career. ... The Braves are scheduled to send LHP Mike Minor
(2-5, 4.54 ERA) against Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (5-9, 5.05 ERA) in
Saturday's second game. ... Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said before
Friday's game that work on portions of a $575 million Wrigley Field
renovation could begin soon following a city landmark's commission
approval on Thursday. ... 2B Darwin Barney was activated from
paternity leave after this week's birth of his third child and LHP
Zac Rosscup was called up from Triple-A Iowa. ... Friday's paid
crowd of 39,544 was the largest this season at Wrigley Field.
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