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20 hits help Braves tame Cubbies

Atlanta grabs game one amid Chicago spats, 8-5

    CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs didn’t need another team at Wrigley Field on Friday to find an opponent.

    Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett shoved each other in the dugout, then the pitcher busted his teammate’s lip in the clubhouse so badly that Barrett wound up in a hospital.

    Oh yeah, the Cubs lost again, 8-5 to the Atlanta Braves.

    Atlanta had just scored five runs in the top of the fifth to increase its lead to 7-1. Jeff Francoeur’s two-run double made it 4-1 and, with runners on first and second, Barrett allowed a passed ball and threw wildly to third for an error that let Scott Thorman score. Pitcher Kyle Davies (3-3) and Kelly Johnson followed with RBI doubles.

    Zambrano (5-5) was seen pointing at his head and yelling at the catcher in the dugout before the bottom half, while Barrett pointed toward the field. There was shoving, and Zambrano cocked his right fist as they were being separated. Manager Lou Piniella said he and several players walked Zambrano back to the clubhouse.

    Piniella said he told Zambrano to take a shower and go home, then returned to the dugout. Moments later, a clubhouse attendant could be seen telling Piniella something. Derrek Lee jumped up and headed into the tunnel, and Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild followed.

    ‘‘Michael went up there,’’ Piniella said. ‘‘I was watching the game.’’

    Piniella also banished Barrett, who was being examined at a hospital, and said both players will be disciplined.

    Scott Eyre relieved Zambrano, who was pitching on his 26th birthday and allowed a career-high 13 hits in five innings. Koyie Hill, who had just been called up from Triple-A Iowa, replaced Barrett.

    Davies allowed one run and six hits in seven innings for the Braves, who had 20 hits. Davis, Johnson, Edgar Renteria and Willie Harris had three apiece.

    Chicago has lost nine of 11 and dropped to 22-30 — not exactly the start the Cubs were looking for after spending $300 million to bring in Piniella along with free agents Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis.

    Chicago committed several baserunning blunders — one by Barrett — Tuesday in a 9-4 loss to Florida that Piniella said ‘‘might be our worst game of the year.’’ A day later, the players held a lengthy pregame meeting, and Piniella and team executives had one of their own. Then, the Marlins beat them 9-0.

    It was just as bad Friday.

    Johnson sent a pop to shallow left on the game’s second pitch and it fell for a single as shortstop Ryan Theriot seemed to lose in the sun. With one out, Aramis Ramirez bobbled Renteria’s grounder to third and had to settle for getting the runner at first instead of a double play. Brian McCann then singled to put the Braves ahead to stay.

    Cubs right fielder Matt Murton dropped a fly in the fourth, allowing another run to score.

    Although they won for the third time in four games, the Braves got some more bad news on third baseman Chipper Jones. He’ll go on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right hand on Saturday, manager Bobby Cox said.

    Jones has been experiencing pain in both hands since a baserunning collision on May 11 and had missed his eighth straight game.

Notes: Ramirez hit a two-run homer off Peter Moylan in the eighth and Jacque Jones homered in the ninth. ... The Braves are expected to purchase the contract of INF Yunel Escobar from Triple-A Richmond on Saturday. ... Cubs OF Cliff Floyd was a late scratch because of minor inflammation in the cartilage of his ribcage, so Murton started in right. ... The Cubs placed backup C Henry Blanco on the 15-day DL with a herniated disk in his neck and recalled Hill. Blanco, batting .194 in 14 games, said he woke up with a sore neck a few weeks ago. He was examined Thursday.

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