Braves 7, Cubs 2

Preview | Box Score | Recap

CHICAGO (AP)—The Chicago Cubs couldn’t figure how to get Vinny Castilla out. It’s a problem they’ve been having for years.

Castilla capped a remarkable series Sunday night, getting three hits and two RBIs as the Atlanta Braves beat the Cubs 7-2 to go 61-32 at the All-Star break, the major league’s best record.

“The first half of the season has been terrific,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “We’ve just got to keep it going.”

Castilla went 3-for-4 Sunday and finished the series 11-for-15 (.733) with 10 RBIs. He’s a lifetime .331 hitter against the Cubs.

“Hopefully I can stay like this, keep seeing the ball like I was,” Castilla said, looking forward to the second half.

Shane Reynolds (7-4) ran his career record against the Cubs to 15-6 by allowing seven hits and an unearned run in six innings.

Like Castilla, he’s always had great success against the Cubs.

“Some teams you do pretty well against, some you don’t do well against at all,” Reynolds said.

“Why? I have no idea.”

Atlanta, which won three of four in the series, scored five runs in the sixth inning to send the Cubs back to .500 at the All-Star break after they’d led the NL Central for much of the first half.

Chicago lost 13 of its final 19 before the break and is in third place in the division—three games behind first-place Houston.

“It’s not the way I envisioned ending the first half,” said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who’ll manage the NL All-Stars Tuesday night. “Now we have a few days off. We have to forget about the end of the first half and start the second half.”

Robert Fick hit a two-run double after Carlos Zambrano (6-8) walked the first two batters in the sixth. After Javy Lopez singled, Castilla followed with an RBI single. Following a sacrifice, Rafael Furcal capped the inning with a two-run single off Dave Veres.

Trailing 1-0, the Braves scored two runs in the fourth inning as Gary Sheffield walked, went to third on Chipper Jones’ single and scored on Andruw Jones’ sacrifice fly. Lopez followed with a single, and Castilla drove him home with a single to make it 2-1.

Tom Goodwin flashed his speed to get the Cubs an unearned run in the third. He raced to second when his grounder went through Mark De Rosa’s legs at second. Breaking on the pitch, he scored from second on Sammy Sosa’s infield single that shortstop Furcal flagged behind the bag.

The Cubs added a run in the eighth on Alex Gonzalez’s RBI double.

Sosa went 2-for-5. Since his seven-game suspension for using a corked bat ended June 18, Sosa batted .347 with 12 homers and 24 RBIs in the ensuing 25 games.

His focus in on the pennant race.

“We got to come back and play better in the second half,” Sosa said. “We’re one or two or three out of first. It’s no big deal. It would be big if it were 10 or 15.”

Zambrano allowed eight hits and seven runs in five innings plus.


Braves second baseman Marcus Giles won’t play in Tuesday’s All-Star game on the advice of a team doctor who examined him Sunday. Giles got a concussion Friday when he collided with Cubs pitcher Mark Prior on the basepath near second. Prior bruised a shoulder in the collision. After throwing in the outfield Sunday, he said he would be able to pitch in the All-Star game. … The 61 wins are the Braves’ most ever at the All-Star break. Atlanta has won nine of 10. … Sunday night’s crowd of 39,832 upped the attendance for the four-game set between the Cubs and Braves to 157,902—a Wrigley Field record. The previous four-game attendance record at Wrigley was 156,590 set against Colorado in July 1993. … Cubs reliever Antonio Alfonseca was knocked down when hit in the right hip by a line drive from Chipper Jones in the ninthinning but was able to continue. He said after the game that he was fine.

Related Articles