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Braves win a tense one

    ATLANTA - Bobby Cox insists he has no animosity toward the Chicago Cubs. Lou Piniella said he feels the same way about the Atlanta Braves.

    The reality, however, is that each manager oversees a pitching staff that keeps hitting batters on the other team.

    "We have no problem with the Cubbies at all," Cox said. "And they don't have a problem with us."

    Willie Harris scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Chicago closer Ryan Dempster with two outs in the eighth inning, giving the Braves a testy 5-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday.  The game got off to a scrappy start. Cubs starter Ted Lilly was ejected in the first inning after hitting Edgar Renteria with a pitch, causing the benches and bullpens to empty.   

    Moments later, Renteria retaliated. He smacked Cubs second baseman Mike Fontenot in the face with his right hand while stealing second. The teams stayed calm after the play, and it was peaceful the rest of the night.  

    "Outside of the fact that we have a tired bullpen and a tough loss, I'm not going to talk about it," Piniella said. "We're battling."

    Renteria left for a pinch-hitter in the fourth because of a bruise on his left hand, the result of Lilly's fastball. The Braves said X-rays were negative.

    "It hit me in the hand and the chin also," Renteria said. "But I have a big chin. Strong. I understand the game. If he hit me on my buttocks, I understand, but to hit me in the head, I don't understand that."

    Harris had a pinch-hit single and stole second in the eighth. He moved to third when Yunel Escobar's double-play grounder tied it at 4.

    The Braves scored three runs in the eighth off Dempster, who had pitched nine straight scoreless innings.

    "I don't have a clue," Dempster said when asked about the wild pitch. "My foot just gave out, and I slipped. That's not where we lost the game. We lost it earlier."

    Atlanta had lost eight of 10 at home and 10 of 16 overall, but Scott Thorman made it 4-3 with his RBI double off Dempster (1-3).

    Michael Barrett and Fontenot homered for the Cubs.

    Chad Paronto (3-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the eighth when Fontenot hit into a     double play and Cesar Izturis grounded out. Bob Wickman closed for his 11th save in 13 chances.

    The Cubs made it 2-all in the fifth on Fontenot's RBI triple and Alfonso Soriano's sacrifice fly.

    Barrett's ninth homer gave Chicago a 3-2 lead in the sixth, and Fontenot made it 4-2 with his first career homer in the seventh. All of the Cubs runs were charged to starter Buddy Carlyle.

    Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the third on Kelly Johnson's eighth homer and Jeff Francouer's broken-bat RBI single.

    Both runs came off Carlos Marmol, who replaced Lilly in the first and gave up five hits and struck out two in 2 1-3 innings.

    Lilly had a 2-0 count on Renteria when he hit him. Renteria took a couple of steps toward the mound before plate umpire Jim Wolf and Barrett, the Cubs catcher, stepped in front of him to prevent a fight.

    "I was talking to the catcher, and he said, 'He was not trying to hit you,'" Renteria said. "I said, 'OK. I don't fight. You don't see me charge the mound.'"

    In the Braves' 9-5 victory on Saturday, Atlanta starter Tim Hudson hit Cubs leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano with a pitch in the back. The day before, Soriano hit three homers in a 9-1 win.

    Renteria homered and drove in four runs on Saturday.

    "We honestly did not hit Soriano on purpose," Cox said. "But we were trying to go in. He hangs out (over the plate), but to them, he's been so hot lately, especially against us, it appears that we hit him. It puts the manager in a tough predicament."

Notes: Braves 3B Chipper Jones took a couple of swings in live batting practice for the first time since May 24. The 1999 NL MVP, who went on the 15-day with a bruised right hand June 1, still has soreness in his wrists and has no immediate timetable for his return. ... Hudson, who took a line drive off his left leg and had to leave his start Saturday, believes he will feel good enough to start on Thursday at Minnesota.

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