ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Garza's marathon first inning and the steamy conditions led to one short outing for the right-hander.
Garza gave up a pair of two-run homers in the first and the Chicago Cubs went on to a 7-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.
Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco connected for Atlanta, which salvaged a split of the four-game series.
Garza (4-7), who could be one of the top starters on the market ahead of this month's trade deadline, allowed five runs and five hits in four innings. He struck out six and walked three while throwing 94 pitches.
Geovany Soto homered for Chicago.
Francisco capped the Braves' long first inning with a 16-pitch at-bat, fouling off pitch after pitch until he finally bounced out to first base.
``A couple pitches hit out of the ballpark and then the 16-pitch at-bat to Francisco kind of killed the whole outing, really,' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
``It was too bad. Once again, it looked like he had pretty good stuff, but the foul balls and everything just killed him.'
Garza threw 44 pitches in the first, thanks to Francisco's at-bat.
``I don't think he ever recovered from it,' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The gametime temperature was 97 degrees. Garza struck out Michael Bourn in the first, but the inning quickly unraveled from there.
Martin Prado hit a one-out single before Heyward drove a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right for his 14th homer. Freeman then singled to right and McCann sent another 1-2 offering over the wall in right for his 10th of the season.
Francisco made Garza throw 12 pitches before taking a walk in the fourth.
``Two at_bats. We kind of got tired of him,' Sveum said of Francisco. ``Move on to the next guy.'
Garza downplayed the effect Francisco's long at_bats had on his short night.
``That's just an at-bat,' Garza said. ``That's all it is. He battled, I battled. I won the first one, he won the second one. That's all it is.'
Freeman had a solo shot off Garza in the third and Francisco went deep in the eighth against Manny Corpas.
Mike Minor (5-6) held the Cubs without a hit until the fifth and gave up three runs, two earned, and three hits in 6 1-3 innings overall.
``This was a confidence-builder for him,' McCann said. ``He made his pitches when he needed to.'
Minor entered with an ugly 6.20 ERA after giving up four runs in each of his last three starts.
Gonzalez said wins in two straight starts allow Minor to ``go into the All-Star break feeling good about himself.'
``Every week I'm trying to get better,' Minor said.
Atlanta went 5-5 on its longest homestand of the season.
The Cubs' first hit off Minor was Soto's homer with one out in the fifth.
``I wasn't really all that worried about the home run,' Minor said. ``I was trying to throw strikes. McCann set up in the middle and (Soto) hit it.'
The Braves answered Soto's shot with a run off Scott Maine in the bottom half. Prado singled, moved to third on Heyward's single and scored on McCann's fly ball to right field.
Anthony Rizzo led off the seventh with a single off Minor, who then walked Alfonso Soriano. Minor struck out Bryan LaHair before he was replaced by Kris Medlen.
Pinch-hitter Reed Johnson delivered a two-out RBI single and Heyward made a wild throw to third base for an error, allowing Soriano to score.
NOTES: The Braves placed LHP Jonny Venters on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow impingement. The team recalled LHP Luis Avilan from Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Bourn finished second to David Freese of St. Louis in online voting for a spot on the NL All-Star team. ... Prado has an 11-game hitting streak. ... Sveum said he will announce Friday if Ryan Dempster will come off the disabled list to start on Sunday against the Mets. Dempster has been on the 15-day DL since June 18 with tightness in his right lat muscle. ... Atlanta opens a three-game series at Philadelphia on Friday night with Tim Hudson (6-4) facing the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick (2-8). ... The Cubs are at the Mets on Friday night with Travis Wood looking for his fourth win against New York's Johan Santana.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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