Cubs strike early to beat Braves

When he finally made his Wrigley debut Monday night, the first couple of innings brought another pratfall for Jurrjens and the Braves.

Derrek Lee hit a two-run homer in the first inning and the Chicago Cubs added two runs in the second, cruising to a 4-2 series-opening win that extended the Braves' losing skid to three games.

"I wish I could take back those two innings," said Jurrjens (6-7). "Especially the pitch to Lee."

The momentum of their five-game winning streak, including last week's sweep against Philadelphia, has quickly faded from view for the Braves.

Nate McLouth had three of the Braves' nine hits, including a leadoff homer in the fifth inning. But the Braves went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, a problem in so many of their losses.

They slipped back to fourth place, four games under .500 (39-43) and five games behind the division-leading Phillies in the National League East.

"We've just got to put it all together offensively," said Braves right fielder Matt Diaz, whose string of five multi-hit games ended with an 0-for-4 performance that included two strikeouts and five runners left on base.

Jurrjens (6-7) was charged with four runs and seven hits in six innings and fell to 1-5 in his past seven starts. He has a 3.40 ERA in that period but the Braves failed to score while he was in three starts and managed just one run in another.

After scoring nine runs behind him against Philadelphia in an 11-1 win on Wednesday, the Braves reverted to more typical Jurrjens run support.

"Our worst fear was realized: we gave Jurrjens all our offense his last outing," Diaz said. "The fact that he settled down and still gave us a chance to win says something about the kind of season he's having."

The Braves scored twice on Yunel Escobar's single in the fourth and McLouth's homer in the fifth against Cubs starter Randy Wells (4-3), who allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings.

But they wasted a chance to do more damage against the young right-hander. In the fourth, they loaded the bases before Diaz struck out and Jurrjens grounded out. Atlanta never had more than one runner on again until the seventh, when Brian McCann grounded out with two on to end the inning.

Jeff Francoeur led off the seventh with a pinch-hit infield single but McLouth popped out trying to bunt, the sort of mistake that plagues the Braves.

Jurrjens settled in after the rough start and faced the minimum nine over his final three innings. But the damage was done.

Wells helped himself in the second inning, when he followed a two-out single by No. 8 hitter Mike Fontenot with one of his own. Kosuke Fukudome doubled, Ryan Theriot single and the four consecutive two-out hits yielded two runs and a 4-0 lead.

"J.J. was fine," manager Bobby Cox said. "He just made a real bad pitch to Derrek. And the other ones with two out, to Fontenot and the pitcher."

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