Baylor firing fails to spark Cubs in loss to BravesPosted: Friday July 05, 2002 10:50 PM
Updated: Saturday July 06, 2002 12:14 AM
The punchless Cubs lost 4-3 to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, completing a tumultuous day during which they got a new manager and possibly lost Sosa for the rest of the weekend because of a family emergency.
"It's tough, but you have to do your job," Cubs starter Matt Clement said. "Don was good to me. He was the first manager who ever gave me a chance to pitch. It's sad it happened."
Chicago dismissed Baylor earlier in the day and replaced him with Bruce Kimm, but the move didn't play immediate dividends. The Cubs stranded two runners in the second, third and sixth innings.
Kimm, who moves up from Triple-A Iowa, won't be with the team until Saturday. Bench coach Rene Lachemann ran the team in the interim, and the Cubs lost for the ninth time in 11 games to fall a season-worst 16 games below .500 (34-50).
"It's a rerun of what we've been doing all year," Lachemann said. "I told them before the game to play a good game, to play with intensity. But we need victories, not moral victories."
Sosa originally was in the lineup, but traveled back to Chicago for the emergency. Team spokesman Chuck Wasserstrom said the slugging right fielder wasn't expected to return to Atlanta for the final two games of the series. He missed his first game of the season.
"It didn't change my game plan, but it took one guy out of the lineup that I would welcome being out of the lineup on any day," Braves starter Kevin Millwood said with a smile.
Keith Lockhart hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to back Millwood's pitching as the Braves won for the 14th time in 16 games.
Millwood (6-5) went six innings and gave up four hits, including Fred McGriff's towering solo home run in the second. It was McGriff's 465th career homer, tying him for 23rd on the all-time list with Dave Winfield.
"I've been blessed," McGriff said. "I've been in the game 16 years."
Millwood was effectively wild, walking four and hitting a batter but striking out eight. He turned a 4-2 lead over to the majors' best bullpen.
"I didn't feel like my stuff was as crisp as it's been lately," Millwood said. "But at the same time, I was able to make some pretty good pitches."
Kevin Gryboski and Mike Remlinger pitched a scoreless inning apiece, and John Smoltz gave up Delino DeShields' RBI single with two outs before getting his 30th save in 33 chances, becoming the fifth Braves pitcher to reach that mark.
With nearly a half-season left, Smoltz is well within reach of Mark Wohlers' club record of 39 saves in 1996.
"It's been an amazing year," Smoltz said. "Nearing the break I've been on an incredible pace. I always felt I could be good once I learned the role and if given the opportunity."
A two-run double by Gary Sheffield off Clement (6-6) in the third gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead, and two more runs in the next inning put the game away.
Vinny Castilla led off the fourth with a single, and an out later, Lockhart hit a 1-1 pitch over the scoreboard in right for a 4-1 lead. It was Lockhart's fifth of the season.
"I'm not a guy who expects to hit a lot of home runs," he said. "It was a hard slider down and in, and I just threw the barrel down and just caught it on the good part of the bat."
The Cubs cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth against Millwood. McGriff hit a one-out double and scored on Roosevelt Brown's single.
Notes: A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who died Friday at the age of 83. ... Atlanta SS Rafael Furcal singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. ... Atlanta 1B Matt Franco, who was wearing a protective shield over his right foot after fouling a ball off it Wednesday night, hit three straight pitches of the same foot in the first inning before singling.