Final in 15

Series: Game 1 of 3

Chi Cubs leads 1-0 (as of 4/9)

Game 1: Friday, April 9
Chi Cubs2Final
in 15
Game 2: Saturday, April 10
Chi Cubs2Final
Game 3: Sunday, April 11
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Cubs 2

(2-2, 2-2 away)

Braves 1

(2-2, 2-2 home)

    7:35 PM ET, April 9, 2004

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

    56789101112131415 R H E
    CHC 00001000001 2 12 0
    ATL 00000000000 1 6 0

    W: K. Mercker (1-0)

    L: W. Cunnane (1-1)

    S: J. Borowski (2)

    Hollandsworth hits homer in ninth to tie game

    ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves held a one-run lead on the Chicago Cubs in the ninth inning with John Smoltz on the mound.

    Game over, right?

    "The odds aren't too good," Cubs manager Dusty Baker admitted.

    But Todd Hollandsworth hit a tying home run off Smoltz, and Tom Goodwin brought in Derrek Lee with a sacrifice fly six innings later to help Chicago beat the Braves 2-1 Friday night.

    The 15-inning victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cubs.

    "We just didn't give up, we kept clawing and clawing," Baker said. "Thank God for Hollandsworth and Goodwin."

    Aramis Ramirez, who had four hits, doubled for the third time to lead off the inning, and moved to third on a single by Lee. Against a drawn-in infield, Ramon Martinez hit a grounder to shortstop Jesse Garcia, who quickly threw home to easily get Ramirez.

    But Michael Barrett walked to load the bases, and Goodwin hit a fly ball off Will Cunnane (0-1) down the right-field line to score Lee.

    J.D. Drew caught it with his feet straddling the foul line.

    "It would have been a risky move to let it fall," Goodwin said. "I knew if he caught it, it would be deep enough to score the run."

    Kent Mercker (1-0) pitched the 14th, and Joe Borowski got three outs for his second save.

    Eddie Perez went 2-for-6 for the Braves, and he, Ramirez and Lee, who had two singles, were the only players with more than one hit.

    "We thought we had it won a couple of times," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "We just couldn't get a big, clutch hit."

    The Cubs tied it on a pinch-homer by Hollandsworth, who drove a pitch from Smoltz deep into the seats in right.

    "Honestly, against Smoltz, you're hoping for it, but you're not trying to hit a home run," Hollandsworth said. "It's a huge win for us, no matter how many innings it took."

    Smoltz had elbow surgery in the offseason and has allowed home runs in three straight appearances, the first time that's happened in nearly three years. Part of his problem is his location -- it's too good. He's thrown 26 straight strikes, and 32 of his 35 pitches this season have been over the plate.

    "Every inning we played was more salt in my wounds," Smoltz said. "This is a tough one to lose."

    The drawn-out finish spoiled a wonderful pitching duel. Atlanta's Horacio Ramirez pitched seven shutout innings -- the longest any starter has lasted so far for the Braves -- and Carlos Zambrano allowed only two hits in seven innings for the Cubs.

    One of those was a solo homer hit by Andruw Jones in the second, which was the only run through the first eight innings.

    "From the third inning to the seventh, I was in control," Zambrano said.

    Through their first three games, the Braves were batting .360 as a team. They scored 30 runs -- including 28 in back-to-back victories over the New York Mets -- and had 40 hits.

    None of that mattered against Zambrano, who struck out seven and retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced.

    The Braves failed to convert an opportunity for an insurance run in the eighth. Perez singled off Kyle Farnsworth with one out, and pinch-hitter Dewayne Wise moved him to third with a double down the left-field line.

    But Garcia lined out to shallow right -- Perez never thought about running on Sammy Sosa's arm -- and Marcus Giles struck out.

    Atlanta left the bases loaded in the 12th and 13th, and the Cubs left two runners stranded in the 12th, 14th and 15th.

    "If you don't have a good bullpen that comes through for you, you don't have nothing," Baker said.

    The game was a rematch of the first round of last season's playoffs. The Cubs won deciding Game 5 at Turner Field -- their first postseason series victory in 95 years -- and then blew a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series against the Florida Marlins.

    But that was 2003, and both of these teams are very different. The Braves no longer have Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez or Vinny Castilla in their lineup, and longtime ace Greg Maddux signed a free agent with the Cubs, his original organization.

    That was part of Chicago's retooling that left the lovable losers from Wrigleyville as favorites in the NL Central.

    Game notes

    Cubs RHP Sergio Mitre gets the start Saturday against the Braves, replacing RHP Mark Prior. Prior likely is out until May with inflammation in his right Achilles' tendon and a stiff elbow. In his final appearance of the spring, Mitre pitched three scoreless innings last Saturday against Arizona. ... Perez got his first start of the season behind the plate in place of Johnny Estrada.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press