Cubs lose for ninth time in 12 games

ATLANTA (AP) -- It'll take more than firing manager Don Baylor to

get the Chicago Cubs going. Playing without Sammy Sosa didn't help,



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The punchless Cubs lost 4-3 to the Atlanta Braves on Friday

night, completing a tumultuous day during which they got a new

manager and possibly lost Sosa for the rest of the weekend because

of a family emergency.

"It's tough, but you have to do your job,'' Cubs starter Matt

Clement said. "Don was good to me. He was the first manager who

ever gave me a chance to pitch. It's sad it happened.''

Chicago dismissed Baylor earlier in the day and replaced him

with Bruce Kimm, but the move didn't play immediate dividends. The

Cubs stranded two runners in the second, third and sixth innings.

Kimm, who moves up from Triple-A Iowa, won't be with the team

until Saturday. Bench coach Rene Lachemann ran the team in the

interim, and the Cubs lost for the ninth time in 11 games to fall a

season-worst 16 games below .500 (34-50).

"It's a rerun of what we've been doing all year,'' Lachemann

said. "I told them before the game to play a good game, to play

with intensity. But we need victories, not moral victories.''

Sosa originally was in the lineup, but traveled back to Chicago

for the emergency. Team spokesman Chuck Wasserstrom said the

slugging right fielder wasn't expected to return to Atlanta for the

final two games of the series. He missed his first game of the


"It didn't change my game plan, but it took one guy out of the

lineup that I would welcome being out of the lineup on any day,''

Braves starter Kevin Millwood said with a smile.

Keith Lockhart hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to back

Millwood's pitching as the Braves won for the 14th time in 16


Millwood (6-5) went six innings and gave up four hits, including

Fred McGriff's towering solo home run in the second. It was

McGriff's 465th career homer, tying him for 23rd on the all-time

list with Dave Winfield.

"I've been blessed,'' McGriff said. "I've been in the game 16


Millwood was effectively wild, walking four and hitting a batter

but striking out eight. He turned a 4-2 lead over to the majors'

best bullpen.

"I didn't feel like my stuff was as crisp as it's been

lately,'' Millwood said. "But at the same time, I was able to make

some pretty good pitches.''

Kevin Gryboski and Mike Remlinger pitched a scoreless inning

apiece, and John Smoltz gave up Delino DeShields' RBI single with

two outs before getting his 30th save in 33 chances, becoming the

fifth Braves pitcher to reach that mark.

With nearly a half-season left, Smoltz is well within reach of

Mark Wohlers' club record of 39 saves in 1996.

"It's been an amazing year,'' Smoltz said. "Nearing the break

I've been on an incredible pace. I always felt I could be good once

I learned the role and if given the opportunity.''

A two-run double by Gary Sheffield off Clement (6-6) in the

third gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead, and two more runs in the next inning

put the game away.

Vinny Castilla led off the fourth with a single, and an out

later, Lockhart hit a 1-1 pitch over the scoreboard in right for a

4-1 lead. It was Lockhart's fifth of the season.

"I'm not a guy who expects to hit a lot of home runs,'' he

said. "It was a hard slider down and in, and I just threw the

barrel down and just caught it on the good part of the bat.''

The Cubs cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth against Millwood.

McGriff hit a one-out double and scored on Roosevelt Brown's


Game notes

A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of

Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who died Friday at the age of 83. ...

Atlanta SS Rafael Furcal singled in the third to extend his hitting

streak to a career-high 14 games. ... Atlanta 1B Matt Franco, who

was wearing a protective shield over his right foot after fouling a

ball off it Wednesday night, hit three straight pitches of the same

foot in the first inning before singling.