Hours after being named to an eighth All-Star team in the final year of his all-but-certain Hall of Fame career, Chipper Jones put together a performance reminiscent of his prime.
Jones was left off the original All-Star roster Sunday, but was one of five players on the ballot for the final NL spot to be decided by fan voting. He didn't need that one, though, as the 40-year-old third baseman was added to the team Tuesday to replace the injured Matt Kemp .
The newly minted All-Star quickly made that look like a wise decision, going 5 for 5 and driving in four runs in a 10-3 win over the Cubs. It was Jones' third career five-hit performance and first since Aug. 11, 2002, and it raised his batting average 22 points to .313.
"Tonight was just one of those dream games," said Jones, who doubled twice and even stole his first base of 2012. "I would be hard-pressed to find a game in which I played better."
The Braves (42-38) snapped Chicago's season-best four-game winning streak with their second victory in six contests, remaining five games back of NL East-leading Washington. Atlanta improved to 17-2 when Jones drives in a run.
Jones is riding a season-best 10-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .432 with seven doubles, but he's hitless in nine career at-bats against Maholm (5-6, 4.84 ERA).
Michael Bourn , who is one of the four remaining players on the ballot for the final NL All-Star spot, has also struggled against Maholm, batting .219 with 10 strikeouts in 32 career at-bats.
Maholm is usually at the top of his game against the Braves, posting a 1.34 ERA in seven starts - his lowest against any opponent. At Wrigley Field on May 9, he allowed three hits and three walks in seven innings of a 1-0 win over Atlanta.
The left-hander went 0-4 with a 6.43 ERA over his next eight starts - with Chicago (30-50) losing seven times - before limiting Houston to four hits and a walk over a season-high 8 1-3 innings in Friday's 4-0 victory. Maholm credits a greater confidence in his pitches for the turnaround.
"If you are doubting your pitches or whatever you are not going to be as crisp," Maholm said. "Whether I was throwing the so-called correct pitch, I was aggressive with it."
Atlanta hopes scheduled starter Randall Delgado (4-8, 4.52) can solve his recent problems Wednesday. The Braves have lost Delgado's last four starts and 10 of his last 13.
In his last two, the 22-year-old right-hander has pitched a combined 5 1-3 innings, surrendering eight runs and 14 hits.
Despite his struggles, Delgado had a solid outing at Wrigley on May 8, allowing a run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-1 victory, although he didn't get the decision. Cubs All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro was 0 for 3 against Delgado.
Castro is 4 for 28 in his last eight games but has walked five times in that stretch after drawing six bases on balls in his first 72 contests.
|June 16, 2012||Ryan Dempster||15-Day DL||Right lat tightness|
|June 13, 2012||Ian Stewart||15-Day DL||Sore left wrist|
|June 02, 2012||Blake Parker||60-Day DL||Stress reaction in right elbow|
|May 19, 2012||Welington Castillo||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|May 19, 2012||Welington Castillo||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|May 17, 2012||Geovany Soto||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus, left knee|
|June 17, 2012||Brandon Beachy||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|June 16, 2012||Brandon Beachy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right elbow soreness|
|June 13, 2012||Freddie Freeman||Day-to-Day||Left thumb discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Eric O'Flaherty||Day-to-Day||Left elbow soreness|
|June 09, 2012||Tim Hudson||Day-to-Day||Bone spurs in left ankle|
|June 02, 2012||Brian McCann||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left knee|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Dale Sveum had a blunt appraisal for the Cubs' play in the first half of the season and a simple plan for better results.
Sveum said the Cubs can improve by taking care of such basics as throwing strikes and hitting with runners were in scoring position.
A few homers also help.
Bryan LaHair , Jeff Baker and Anthony Rizzo hit home runs, Paul Maholm threw six strong innings and Chicago continued its success against Atlanta by beating the Braves 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Paul Maholm (6-6) gave up one run on eight hits in six innings. He had only one walk with five strikeouts.
The Cubs (31-50) are in last place in the NL Central but have won seven of their last nine and are only one-half game behind fifth-place Houston at the midpoint of the 162-game schedule.
"When you're 20 games under .500, you've obviously underachieved," Sveum said.
The Cubs have played like a contender against the Braves, winning two of the first three games in the four-game series after winning two of three in Chicago on May 7-9.
"Obviously, we've played some good games against them," Maholm said.
Maholm, a Mississippi native, said he enjoys pitching in Atlanta. He is 3-1 against the Braves in his career, including 2-0 this season.
"Obviously, I grew up a Braves fan," Maholm said. "I grew up watching Chipper (Jones) and (Tom) Glavine and (Greg) Maddux.
"It's hot and humid, what I grew up pitching in. I can't say I don't enjoy coming here."
The Braves, third in the NL East, fell 6 games behind first-place Washington.
"Sometimes, man, you meet a team that's playing good baseball," said Atlanta's Michael Bourn , who had three hits. "That's what's happening right now. (The Cubs) were earning it. Hey, we lost."
Rizzo's homer off Anthony Varvaro in the eighth was his second of the series and third overall since his recall from Triple-A Iowa on June 26.
Randall Delgado (4-9) allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks in six-plus innings. Delgado has lost four straight decisions.
James Russell gave up only a walk in two scoreless innings behind Maholm. Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect ninth.
Jones, who had five hits in the Braves' 10-3 win on Tuesday night, had a first-inning single to give him hits in six straight at-bats and a season-best 11-game hitting streak.
Jones added a sixth-inning single and advanced to second when Maholm hit Freddie Freeman with a pitch. With two outs, Jones was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Alfonso Soriano as he tried to score from second on a single by David Ross .
The Cubs scored in the first inning on a delayed double-steal. Starlin Castro , who walked, moved to third on Rizzo's single. Castro scored from third when Braves catcher David Ross threw Rizzo out trying to steal second.
Bourn tripled in the third and scored on Martin Prado 's infield single.
LaHair's 14th homer in the fourth gave Chicago a 2-1 lead. The NL All-Star had two hits and a walk.
The Cubs added two runs in the seventh against Delgado and Jonny Venters . Darwin Barney doubled, moved to third on Luis Valbuena 's groundout and scored on Delgado's wild pitch. Venters gave up a pinch-hit homer to Baker.
Venters has allowed six homers in 32 innings this season after giving up only three in 171 innings in 2010 and 2011 combined. Venters' ERA is 4.45 and he no longer serves as closer Craig Kimbrel 's primary setup man.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said solving Venters' slump is crucial to the team's hopes for contending. Gonzalez said Venters doesn't have to be as dominant as in 2011, when he had six wins, nine saves and a 1.84 ERA.
"You feel like you have confidence in the young man," Gonzalez said.
"If we don't get him right - and I'm not talking about last-year right - we're going to be up against it."
Freeman almost tumbled into the Braves' dugout in the eighth as he leaned over the railing to catch Soriano's foul ball. Freeman's feet were in the air after he made the catch before his teammates stopped him from flipping.
Atlanta's Jason Heyward grimaced in apparent pain following a swing in the eighth inning. He remained in the game and said it was just a cramp.
"I can tell there's no strain," Heyward said.
NOTES: Attendance was 40,604. ... Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster had his second bullpen session in three days and could 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. ... The Braves released RHP D.J. Carrasco from Triple-A Gwinnett. Carrasco was signed to a minor league contract on June 20. ... Prado has a 10-game hitting streak. ... The four-game series ends Thursday with Atlanta's Mike Minor facing Chicago's Matt Garza .