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Soriano homers to back Wells as Cubs top Braves

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Soriano homers to back Wells as Cubs top Braves

Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano, left, celebrates with Geovany Soto after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — Alfonso Soriano homered, Randy Wells pitched effectively into the seventh and the Chicago Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Wells (5-4) held the Braves to one run and two hits over 6 2-3 innings, striking out six and improving to 4-1 in his career against Atlanta.

Carlos Marmol got the last three outs and joined Lee Smith as the only Cubs relievers to post consecutive 30-save seasons.

Soriano's two-run shot fueled Chicago's three-run rally in the second. He also walked and was hit by a pitch. Aramis Ramirez added a single and two walks, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.

Chipper Jones and Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homers for Atlanta, which managed just three hits in the game.

Derek Lowe (8-12) took the loss, allowing four hits and two earned runs over seven innings, matching his longest outing of the season. Lowe threw a season-high 119 pitches.

The Cubs snapped the Braves' six-game winning streak and Atlanta remained 6½ games behind the Phillies in the NL East.

Wells has struggled this season, going 3-4 with a 6.16 ERA since coming off a seven-week stay on the disabled list on May 28. On Wednesday, he flashed the form that gave him the NL's 10th-best ERA as a rookie in 2009.

He got off to a fast start, setting down the first 10 Braves and striking out four. The only hit he allowed through the first six innings was Martin Prado's infield single in the fourth.

Wells appeared to tire in the seventh, giving up Freddie Freeman's flyout to the wall and Jones' home run into the batter's eye in center field. Wells threw 109 pitches and departed after Jones' blast, which moved him into a tie with Jeff Bagwell for 34th on the career list with 449.

Gonzalez homered off reliever Kerry Wood in the eighth.

Soriano gave the Cubs their first lead of the series in the second with his 22nd homer, a mammoth two-run shot to center field well over the 400-foot sign.

The Cubs added a run later in the inning thanks to the speed of Tony Campana, who reached on an error when Dan Uggla tried to hurry on a slow roller to second. Campana stole second, went to third on a balk and scored on Wells' swinging bunt.

Ramirez didn't figure in the scoring, but remained hot. He walked twice and reached on an infield single, extending his streak of reaching base to a career-high nine plate appearances before grounding out in the seventh.

Ramirez is hitting .560 (28 for 50) during his 13-game hitting streak and has reached base in 30 of his last 45 plate appearances.

NOTES: Braves OF Jose Constanza was out of the lineup for the second straight day because of a mild sprain of his right ankle, though manager Fredi Gonzalez said Constanza was available to pinch-hit. He expect his to return to the lineup on Thursday. ... Cubs manager Mike Quade was encouraged by news from RHP Andrew Cashner's brief rehab start for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday. Casher allowed two runs and three hits in 2-3 of an inning, but Quade said his velocity topped out in the high 90s and he reported no problems with the strained right rotator cuff that's had him out since April 5. Cashner is scheduled to make two more appearances for Tennessee before moving up to Triple-A Iowa in advance of a September return with the Cubs. ... The Braves will send rookie Brandon Beachy (6-2) to the mound for Thursday afternoon's series finale against Chicago's Matt Garza (6-9), who has posted a 1.47 ERA over his last nine home starts.

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