Atlanta Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar jumps over Chicago Cubs' Ryan Dempster at second base on the way to turning a double play to end the top of the third inning Wednesday.
Bruce Miles' game tracker
Braves 3, Cubs 2
Job 1: Ryan Dempster turned in the Cubs' first quality start, going 6 innings and giving up 3 hits and 1 run. He walked two and struck out nine, throwing 95 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Still hitless: Leadoff man Ryan Theriot is 0-for-7 with no walks to start. He did have a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
He'll take 'em: Alfonso Soriano got his first 2 hits of the year, a half-swing double in the second and sharp single against Braves closer Billy Wagner in the ninth.
Marshall's plan: Lefty reliever Sean Marshall struck out two more, giving him 7 strikeouts in 32/3 innings.
ATLANTA - Talk about a crusher.
Yeah, Chipper Jones crushed a 3-1 changeup from reliever John Grabow in the eighth inning for a 2-run homer that lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Cubs 3-2 Wednesday night.
But the real crusher was how the Cubs lost this one.
They got a solid pitching performance from starter Ryan Dempster, who worked 6 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball and came up big in the third inning with 2 strikeouts to quell an Atlanta rally.
But that all went for naught with Grabow's blown save and 3 double plays hit into by the offense. Manager Lou Piniella was able to let Monday's 16-5 loss roll off his back. But he was seething after this one.
"Tough loss," said Piniella, whose team is 0-2.
Veteran Grabow came on in the eighth after Sean Marshall protected the 2-1 lead by striking out two of the three batters he faced in the seventh. Grabow allowed a one-out double to Martin Prado, followed by the homer from Jones, the 427th of his career.
"He had Prado 2 strikes and no balls, and he hits the ball off the wall," Piniella began. "Then he gets behind on Chipper. He gave him a changeup up in the zone, and the guy hit it."
Grabow expressed disappointment for Dempster.
"To leave your starting pitcher hanging like that, and your whole team, really, it's a tough one," Grabow said. "All these guys battled the whole game, and Demp pitched a heck of a ballgame. I kind of let everyone down. All I can do is come back tomorrow and go at it again.
"It was a changeup (to Jones). I wasn't going to give in to him with a fastball. I just tried to throw a changeup down and away, and I left it up."
Dempster allowed a run in the second to fall behind 1-0. In the third, the Cubs walked Brian McCann intentionally with runners on second and third and one out. Dempster then struck out Troy Glaus and Yunel Escobar.
"I was able to get ahead of Glaus and three good sliders to Escobar," Dempster said. "That's how you want to throw them."
That began a string of 11 batters retired in a row for Dempster, who turned it over to Marshall.
The Cubs, who had 5 hits Monday, managed 7 Wednesday. Piniella lamented the 5 double plays the team has hit into over the two games.
The Cubs got their runs in the fifth to go ahead 2-1. One came home when Dempster bounced one to Glaus at first with the bases loaded. Glaus couldn't make the play and was charged with a run-scoring error. Ryan Theriot followed with a sacrifice fly.
Piniella's postgame news conference ended after a question about whether Marshall's role would change after 2 good outings.
"Look, we just played two games, sir," he said. "We played two games. We're not in our 22nd game or our 42nd game. We've played two games for God's sake. What do you want? Roles change in two games?
"Look, it was just a tough loss and leave it at that."