Surging Cubs hand Braves third straight defeat

CHICAGO (AP) -- Bruce Kimm's presence has pepped up the Chicago
Cubs. And not even a substitution gaffe by the interim manager
could spoil the atmosphere Monday night.

"He's always talking, he's a communicator, he's letting you
know and he's fun to play for,'' said Todd Hundley, who hit one of
three Chicago homers as the Cubs got strong pitching from Carlos
Zambrano and beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2.

Atlanta lost its third straight. The Cubs improved to 5-1 under
Kimm, including 4-0 at home.

Hundley hit a game-tying homer in the fifth and Alex Gonzalez
followed with another before a crowd of 40,206, the largest of the
season at Wrigley Field. Mark Bellhorn also connected for the Cubs.

"The guys have a little bounce in their step. We just hope we
can keep this going,'' said Kimm, who replaced the fired Don Baylor
just before the All-Star break.

On '70s night at Wrigley Field, Sammy Sosa donned an Afro wig,
sun glasses and a heavy chain before meeting Tony Orlando and then
taking batting practice. Orlando -- without "Dawn'' -- wore a Sosa
jersey while singing a pregame medley of his greatest hits.

Plate umpire Joe West ruled Sosa had to change bats after taking
one pitch in the first inning. "He said the bat was cracked,''
Sosa said.

Then in the ninth, Kimm sent Darren Lewis -- who had pinch-run in
the eighth -- to right field, meaning he had to pull Sosa off the

"I made a terrible mistake. It's unforgivable for a manager,''
Kimm said. "We were fortunate we got out of it.''

Sosa came running off the field and Kimm greeted him at the top
of the dugout to explain his mistake.

"It was a mistake. No big deal,'' Sosa said. "We are all
human. The last thing he wanted to do was take me out of the game
and he knew it.''

Zambrano (2-1) allowed five hits in a career-long seven innings.

Zambrano earned his second big league win as a starter and both
have come over Atlanta. He also beat the Braves nine days ago,
allowing two hits in five scoreless innings.

On Monday night, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound right-hander walked
three and struck out four before getting relief help from Kyle
Farnsworth and Antonio Alfonseca.

In the eighth with Gary Sheffield at third after a walk, stolen
base and throwing error on Hundley, Farnsworth retired Andruw Jones
on a check-swing grounder and got Vinny Castilla on an
inning-ending fly to right.

Alfonseca pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances.
Javy Lopez led off with a single, but pinch-runner Jesse Garcia was
caught stealing.

"It seemed like we had five or six chances to get an RBI but
nothing happened,'' Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.

"Gary kept us in it in the eighth, but like I said, we blew the
RBI opportunities.''

Hundley tied it 2-all in the fifth with his eighth homer, an
opposite-field shot to left. Gonzalez followed two pitches later
with his 11th, both off Jason Marquis (6-5).

Marquis, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings, also gave up the solo
homer to Bellhorn in the third.

"I made some mistakes and left some balls up. It's going to
happen and it'll happen again,'' Marquis said. "In this park, you
want to keep the ball on the ground. It was just one of those

Keith Lockhart hit an RBI double in the second and then walked
and scored on Matt Franco's single for a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Game notes
The Hundley-Gonzalez homers marked the seventh time this
season the Cubs have hit back-to-backs and the second time in two
games. Corey Patterson and Gonzalez did it Sunday against Florida.
... Sheffield's first-inning single extended his club-record streak
of reaching base to 41 straight games. ... In the five games he has
batted leadoff since Kimm took over, Bellhorn is 8-for-20 with six
extra base hits.