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ATL@CHC: Byrd goes yard to cut deficit to a run

CHICAGO -- For a homestand that started with so much promise, this one ended in disappointment.

The Cubs took two of three from the Cardinals to begin this seven-game homestand, but after losing three of four to the Braves -- including Thursday's 8-3 loss -- they finished at a mark of 3-4.

Tying a season-high with four errors, four of eight runs given up by Cubs pitchers were unearned. The Cubs lost their first series at Wrigley Field since the Phillies took two of three from July 22-24.

"We're the first ones to always be bummed out with the fact that we weren't able to play good defense," Carlos Pena said. "We want to get better at it. As a team, we want to be a better defensive ballclub.

"We want to make sure we're there for out pitchers. It goes hand-in-hand with winning. We definitely understand how important it is for us to improve our defense, so we're going to keep working at it."

Starter Matt Garza spotted the Braves an early lead on a three-run homer from Brian McCann in the first inning. A single and a throwing error by Garza set the table for the three-run bomb.

"McCann's blow was huge," manager Mike Quade said. "If [Garza] got through that hitter, I know [Dan] Uggla and the rest of those guys are good, but that to me was the biggest at-bat of the game."

After the homer, Garza never quite got in a rhythm. He tossed five innings and allowed six runs -- three of which where earned -- while walking two and striking out six.

"Garza just fought with himself all day," Quade said. "He just never really could get on track and get in sync. It just wasn't his day."

Trailing by two runs in the second, the Cubs fought back when Marlon Byrd hit a solo home run. Tyler Colvin followed with a one-out triple to right field, and Geovany Soto's squibbler to the right side tied the game at 3.

But Garza gave it right back in the third. He loaded the bases with no outs before walking in a run and giving up an RBI single to Freddie Freeman, putting the Braves back on top, 5-3.

After the game, Garza said that he wasn't going to give up after giving up three runs in the first.

"I'm not going to quit," he said. "[If I quit,] I might as well not even show up. I battled my butt off today. It is what it is. It's just one of those things"

With a double in the eighth, Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games. The double was the 700th extra-base hit of his career.

At 17 games under .500, the Cubs will now embark on a six-game road trip to Milwaukee and San Francisco. Pena said that the team needs to just keep moving forward as the season winds down.

"You just never stop working," he said. "You take something from today, build on it and just keep on rolling with it. Hopefully we can get into a nice little groove. Not only myself, but as a team." Comments