Prior tossed a two-hitter in his postseason debut and mid-season acquisitions
were clutch at the plate at the
defeated the Braves, 3-1, to take a two-games-to-one lead in their best-of-five series.
The Cubs, who have not won a postseason series since winning the 1908 World Series, can close out the Braves on Saturday afternoon, when
takes to the mound against Game One loser
, who will be pitching on three days' rest.
Prior (1-0), who went 10-1 after missing a month following a collision with Atlanta's
on July 11, struck out seven and walked four, throwing a season high-tying 133 pitches. He did not allow the Braves to get on the board until the eighth inning, when Giles plated
with a sacrifice fly.
"Hey, 130 pitches, that's my average," Prior said. "I should be used to it right now. If that's the way it is and that's what it takes to go deep into these playoffs, so be it. I feel great."
"Hitting is like a roller-coaster - it goes up and down, and right now we are running into good pitching, so that's how it goes," Giles said. "We can't worry anymore about how Prior (stuck it down our throat). We have to worry about tomorrow."
The 23-year-old Prior, who outpitched former Cub and future Hall of Famer
(0-1), frequently throwing heat past the Braves on a cold night as he became the first Cub to toss a postseason complete game since
fired a one-hitter against the
in Game Three of the 1945 World Series.
"He's a freak, really," Cubs catcher
said of his batterymate. "You're not supposed to be that good at that age and be able to go out and do what he did tonight in his first postseason game."
"He had control of his curveball, slider, sinker, you name it," Giles said. "And when you throw that hard - 94, 95 miles an hour - and hit your spots, that's tough. But we have no time to feel sorry for ourselves."
With one out in the ninth inning, Prior struck out
, who reached as the pitch bounded to the backstop. But Prior struck out
to pop out to end the contest.
"That's about as good as it gets," Cubs manager
said. "First playoff game, and his leash was getting shorter as each runner got on base in the ninth inning."
Rain pushed back the start of the game 30 minutes. Chicago took the lead for good in the bottom of the first against Maddux. Lofton led off with a single and advanced when Braves first baseman Fick slipped on the wet infield grass on
's bunt, which was scored a single.
"It was a huge play for us," Prior said. "It gave us some momentum. It gave us some confidence that we could hopefully bust something open. Greg's never going to allow that to happen. Two runs, I knew that was what I was going to have all night, pretty much."
With two outs, Lofton stole third as Maddux threw a wild pitch, which allowed Grudzielanek to move to second. Simon drove in both runners with a lightly hit single to right field.
, those three guys won the game for us offensively," Baker said. "Lofton's been great, getting on base. Simon drove in the first two runs. And we saw what he was like against his old club. Ramirez got that big hit in the eighth."
After Atlanta halved the deficit in the top of the eighth, Chicago added an insurance run against
in the bottom of the frame.
rapped a one-out single and stole second before Ramirez hit a ground-rule double into the ivy on the right-center field wall.
"I thank Pittsburgh for letting us have them," Prior said. "They've been absolutely fantastic for us."
It was the first postseason game at Wrigley Field since Maddux and the Braves swept the Cubs in the 1998 NLDS.
Largely due to the wet conditions, the Braves committed four errors.
"I knew somebody was going to slip," Baker said. "The field is slick out there. They asked me before the game what kind of game did I expect. (Fick) slipped, Jones slipped, Furcal slipped, and slips helped us today and hurt the Braves."
Maddux, who last month became the first pitcher in major league history to win 15 games in 16 consecutive years, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Just 11 wins shy of 300, Maddux is only 11-12 in 31 postseason appearances, 5-3 in the NLDS.
"Just got outpitched," Maddux said. "That guy is good, he's good. When you locate a fastball like he does, it doesn't matter who you are - you're good."
"He hurt his calf the very first inning and really hurt it again the third and he gutted out the next few innings he pitched," Braves manager
said. "I thought he did a great job pitching on one leg."
Maddux also began his career with the Cubs, making two unsuccessful postseason appearances with them as a 23-year-old in 1989. He spent his first six years with Chicago, winning his first
in 1992 and signing with Atlanta after that season.
"We have a good pitcher (Ortiz) going tomorrow, we are still the best-hitting team in baseball and we have won two games in a row at times this season, so there's a lot of optimism left and we don't feel like we are dead," Maddux said.