Braves Digest - 4/9

<B>Chicago Cubs 2, Atlanta Braves 1</B> - Tom Goodwin drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 15th inning after Todd Hollandsworth tied it with a solo homer in the ninth, as the Chicago Cubs held on for a 2-1 win over Atlanta in the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field. <BR> <BR> <B>Minor Leagues</B> - <B>Buddy Hernandez</B> takes loss for Richmond; <B>James Jurries</B> with four-hit night for Rome; <B>Blaine Boyer</B> goes five strong for Pelicans.

In a matchup of last season's division series, which Chicago won, it took a sac fly into foul territory with the bases loaded for the Cubs to finally score in the 15th.

Derrek Lee scored on the play to make a winner out of Kent Mercker (1-0), who pitched a scoreless 14th inning. Mercker was the seventh of eight Chicago pitchers.

Joe Borowski got three outs in the 15th for his second save.

Aramis Ramirez was 4-for-7 for the Cubs, and Lee went 2-for-4 with three walks. Eddie Perez was the only Atlanta player with more than one hit.

Ramirez led off the 15th with a double off Will Cunnane (1-1) and advanced to third when Lee singled on a 3-2 pitch. Ramon Martinez then grounded into a fielder's choice with Ramirez getting forced out at home, but Michael Barrett walked after that.

Goodwin then knocked in the winning run with a sac fly outside the right field line. Atlanta rightfielder J.D. Drew opted to catch the ball instead of letting it land foul.

The Braves nearly had this one wrapped up with John Smoltz on the mound in the ninth inning when Hollandsworth hit a two-out homer to right field on the first pitch he saw. It was the third home run surrendered by Smoltz in three innings this season. He gave up just two all of last year.

Ramirez was set to get the win after he pitched seven scoreless innings in a tough no decision. He surrendered four hits and five walks, striking out five.

Chicago got an equally good start from Carlos Zambrano, who also pitched seven strong innings. He surrendered just one run on two hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts.

Andruw Jones led off the second inning with his first homer of the season for the Braves, driving a high sinker over the left field wall for the early run.

Atlanta had a two-game winning streak snapped after taking the final two games of a three-game season-opening set against the Mets. Chicago dropped two-of- three to the Reds in its first series.

The Cubs were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base before tying the game in the ninth.

Neither team was hurting for baserunners in the extra innings.

Chicago had a runner at third base in both the 11th and 12th innings, but each time the Braves escaped trouble. Antonio Alfonseca fanned Barrett looking in the 11th, and Juan Cruz got Moises Alou to fly out to end the 12th.

Atlanta then loaded the bases in the bottom of the 12th, but Cubs reliever Todd Wellmeyer struck out Perez to end the inning.

Wellmeyer escaped another bases-loaded jam in the 13th when he got Jones to pop out to right field for the third out.

The news wasn't all good for the Braves, who lost All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal to a strained lower back in the sixth inning.

Furcal fouled back a 1-0 pitch leading off the bottom of the sixth, and left the game after getting checked out by an Atlanta trainer. He was replaced by Jesse Garcia, who struck out swinging two pitches later.

Game Notes

Chicago beat the Braves in last year's division series before losing to Florida in the NLCS...Hollandsworth hit his fifth career pinch-hit homer. It was the first Cubs pinch-hit homer since August 30th of last season against Milwaukee...Cunnane was charged with one run on two hits and a walk in one inning...Perez was 2-for-5 with a walk.

Minor League Recaps

LOUISVILLE BATS 2, RICHMOND BRAVES 1 - Stephen Smitherman's two-run homer in the ninth inning lifted the visiting Louisville Bats to a 3-1 victory over the Richmond Braves at The Diamond Friday.

With the game tied at 1-1, Jacob Cruz opened the ninth inning with a single off Richmond reliever Buddy Hernandez. Smitherman then took a Hernandez offering over the left field fence putting the Bats ahead for good, 3-1.

Richmond jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Damon Hollins scored from second base on a throwing error by Louisville shortstop Felipe Lopez. The run was all the Braves could muster off Bats' starter Brandon Claussen, who fanned 11 batters over six innings of three-hit baseball. Jesus Sanchez (1-0) followed Claussen with two scoreless frames to earn the victory. Brian Mallette pitched the ninth to record his first save.

Sam McConnell worked five innings for the Braves, holding the Bats to one run on four hits. Lopez' single to left field in the third inning plated Dane Sardinha from second base with the Bats' first run.

CHATTANOOGA LOOKOUTS 8, GREENVILLE BRAVES 7 - Chattanooga overcame a four-hit performance by Greenville's James Jurries as the Lookouts won in 10 innings at BellSouth Park Friday night, 8-7. Jurries, who hit a solo homer to deep center field in the ninth to force extra innings, paced a 12-hit Braves attack as Greenville fell to 0-2 on the season.

Sloppy defense was on display as the two clubs combined for seven errors on the night. The Lookouts also made a rare baserunning gaffe as one runner passed another on a fly ball.

A two-error play ended the game in the bottom of the tenth. With the G-Braves leading 7-6, the Lookouts had runners at first and second with two outs. Pinch-hitter Chad Durham floated a single into left field scoring Ed Encarnacion from second base with the tying run. On the play left fielder Kelly Johnson mishandled the ball for an error allowing Dionys Cesar to go from first to third base. Johnson then threw wide to third for a second error; his throw rolled into the Braves dugout, allowing Cesar to score the winning run.

Greenville had claimed the lead in the top of the tenth on a two-error play. Aaron Herr opened the frame with his first career "AA" hit, a double off the right field wall. J.C. Boscan followed with a bunt. Third baseman Ed Encarnacion threw wide to first base, allowing Boscan to reach. Herr took a big turn around third, but second baseman William Bergolla made a wild throw to third, allowing Herr to score, giving the G-Braves short-lived 7-6 lead.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 7, WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS 0 - The Myrtle Beach Pelicans evened up their season record at 1-1 with a 7-0 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks this evening. Blaine Boyer (1-0) lasted 5.0 innings allowing no runs on two hits while striking out five to earn the Pelicans their first win of the season. Boyer had plenty of support from his line-ups 11 hits and the Blue Rocks three errors.

With a scoreless game and two outs on the board in the second inning, a Jose Salas single and an error by Matt Tupman allowed Scott Thorman to score the Pelicans first run of the game and of the season. A batter later, an error by Mike Aviles allowed Salas to score and give the Pelicans a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, the Pelicans bats continued to come alive as Myrtle Beach plated five runs in their half of the inning. Blue Rock starter Eric Ackerman (0-1) lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing seven runs, only three earned, on eight hits.

ROME BRAVES 6, AUGUSTA GREENJACKETS 1 - The Rome Braves beat the Augusta Greenjackets 6-1 Friday night before a crowd of 4,480 at State Mutual Stadium.

Rome jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Josh Burrus singled to left and then stole second. Burrus advanced to third on a Martin Prado groundout and scored on a Steven Doetsch double to right. Matt Esquivel followed with a single up the middle to score Doetsch.

Augusta cut the lead to 2-1 in the third inning. Mickey Hall drew a walk off Braves starter Chuck James and scored on a Jeff Ontiveros double down the left field line

The Braves increased their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning. Josh Burrus led off with a double and advanced to third on a Martin Prado sacrifice bunt. Steven Doetsch then singled to second base to drive in Burrus.

Rome added three runs in the sixth to take a 6-1 lead and seal the victory. Scott Schade led off the inning with a double to right field. Matt Esquivel then singled to left. A throwing error by Augusta left fielder Claudio Arias allowed Esquivel to move to second and Schade to score. Carlos Guzman followed with a double to left center scoring Esquivel. Jarrod Saltalamacchia snuck a base hit through the right side scoring Guzman.

Charlie Morton picks up the win in relief for the Braves (1-0) while Jesus Delgado (0-1) gets the loss for the Greenjackets.

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