CHICAGO -- The Atlanta Braves simply cannot figure out how to win a one-run game on the road. Thursday, it was a hit batsman with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning that gave the Chicago Cubs a 3-2 win to complete a three-game sweep.
Jim Edmonds and Reed Johnson were not in the Cubs plans prior to the season, with both coming over on waiver claims, but each man played a key role in securing the win on Thursday. Edmonds drove home the first two Chicago runs, including a game-tying homer off Blaine Boyer in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Cubs got to Manny Acosta (3-5) for the second time in the series, loading the bases in the 11th with a pair of walks and a single before Braves manager Bobby Cox lifted his struggling reliever. Pinch-hitting for Edmonds, Johnson was promptly hit on the foot by the first pitch from Jeff Ridgway to push across the winning run in the 3-2 Chicago victory.
A two-run homer by Jeff Francoeur would be all the offense that Atlanta would muster, as the Braves left 14 men left on base on the afternoon. The biggest missed opportunity came in the top of the eighth, when three straight men went to the plate with the bases loaded only to strike out against Cubs relievers Scott Eyre and Carlos Marmol.
Another quality start by Tim Hudson went by the wayside. Hudson went six and two thirds innings and limited the Cubs to just one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out five.
Carlos Zambrano gave the Cubs an excellent start as well, pitching into the eighth before a lead-off walk spelled the end of the afternoon. In his seven innings of work, Zambrano allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out three.
Cubs closer Kerry Wood (3-1) pitched two innings of shut-out relief, allowing just a hit and striking out four to pick up the win.
While the road futility continues, it has been the pure volume of one-run losses that has done the Braves in this season. Atlanta's record in one-run contests falls to 3-18 overall, including a dreadful 0-14 mark on the road.
Having dropped their final seven one-run decisions on the road in 2007 before losing their first 14 this season, Sunday's loss ties Atlanta with the 2001 Kansas City Royals, who set a Major League record with 21 consecutive one-run road losses.
The sweep by Chicago also makes three of the last four series that have ended with the Braves on the wrong side of the broom, including consecutive sweeps by the Phillies and Cubs.
Chipper Jones was handled effectively by Zambrano and the Chicago bullpen, who held Jones to just one hit in five trips to the plate. His average now sits at .414 on the season.
On Deck: The Braves continue the 10-game roadtrip as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Angels in a three-game set that begins Friday. Jo-Jo Reyes will take the mound against Jon Garland in the opener.