CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs just couldn't get the big hit.
Jair Jurrjens pitched in and out of trouble for 6 1-3 innings, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the Cubs 3-0 on Monday night for their fifth straight win.
``It's always good if you can do some damage early but we couldn't,' Cubs manager Mike Quade said. ``We created plenty of opportunities, that's for sure.'
The Cubs had just two hits with runners in scoring position in 14 tries.
Jurrjens (13-5) allowed eight hits and walked five. The Cubs had nine hits and drew a season-high seven walks but still ended up with a goose egg on the board and stranded a season-high 15 runners on the night.
``He's got a very good movement on the ball so I think that he's got good location,' Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said. ``He knows what he's doing when he's pitching.
``That was the key to why we lost tonight because we left a lot of runners in scoring position. We didn't get that big hit tonight.'
The Cubs fell to 13-7 this month, missing out on a chance to start an August 14-6 for just the third time in 78 years.
The Cubs played without Starlin Castro, who was benched for a ``mental day off' by manager Mike Quade after television cameras captured the 21-year-old shortstop not paying attention as a pitch was thrown during Sunday night's loss to St. Louis.
Castro, who leads the NL with 164 hits, was the only position player not to make an appearance for the Cubs, who used four pinch-hitters. Quade said he would have used Castro in the ninth had the pitcher's spot come up again.
``I was kind of hoping to use him in the ninth, that means would we have gotten to (the pitcher's) spot,' Quade said. ``I would have used him.'
With Castro out of the lineup, Darwin Barney moved over from second base and made a couple of sparkling plays at shortstop, including a diving stop on Uggla's hard-hit ball in the third that saved a run.
``He's a good little player, isn't he?' Quade said. ``His versatility is huge. He did a real good job tonight.'
Quade said he wasn't sure if Castro would be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday.
Jonny Venters walked the first two batters in the ninth, but got the last three outs for his fifth save, a fitting end for the Cubs' parade of stranded runners.
``That's not the way you draw it up, but (Venters has) got that composure that he can get out of that jam,' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Ryan Dempster (10-9) struck out eight over six innings but fell to 2-10 in his career against the Braves. He allowed homers to Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman, plus a scratch run in the third.
``Couple of bad pitches,' Dempster said. ``Freeman's ball, it's the first time I've ever faced him and he hit a first-pitch slider out. I hung a pitch to Uggla.'
Freeman opened the scoring with a solo homer in the second. Uggla led off the sixth by hitting a drive onto Waveland Avenue.
``Who'd have thought, right?,' Uggla said. ``I guess that's where I've got to hit them against this team.'
Aramis Ramirez singled his first three times up for the Cubs, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He's hitting .512 (22 for 43) during that stretch.
NOTES: Cubs reliever Kerry Wood struck out the side in the ninth and has now struck out 14 of the last 19 batters he's faced. Braves RHP Tommy Hanson threw nine pitches during a short bullpen session on Monday and is slated to throw again on Tuesday as the latest step in his recovery from right rotator cuff tendinitis. Atlanta is hoping Hanson can make a rehab start on Saturday for Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Monday marked the first anniversary of Quade's ascension as Cubs manager. On Aug. 22, 2010, former skipper Lou Piniella announced his retirement and Quade was given the job on an interim basis. He had the interim tag removed after leading the Cubs to a 24-13 finish. ... Atlanta will send LHP Mike Minor to the mound on Tuesday to face Chicago's Casey Coleman, who is 0-3 with a 12.27 ERA in five appearances this season at Wrigley Field.
The Associated Press News Service
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