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MICENTRALSPORTS.COM “brought to you by the Michigan Newspaper Network”  

Jul 11, 9:28 PM EDT

Bethancourt ties game, Braves lose to Cubs in 9th

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Alex Wood's pitching kept the Atlanta Braves close, and Christian Bethancourt's two-out single in the ninth inning tied it.

Yet once again, it wasn't enough for Atlanta.

Justin Ruggiano hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Chicago Cubs beat the Braves 5-4 Friday. The Braves have lost five of six following a nine-game winning streak.

Bethancourt made his season debut with the Braves on June 28. The 22-year-old catcher has made a nice impression with manager Fredi Gonzalez.

"I'm happy for him," Gonzalez said. "I'm really happy about his defense, how he called the game and handled the situations. I'm glad to see the bats come along too."

For Wood, the game began to slip away in the sixth inning.

With one out and the bases loaded, Wood got Chris Coghlan to hit a grounder, but the ball found a hole in the left side of the infield and went for an RBI single that made it 3-all.

"It's just one of those things," Wood said following the loss. "You hope for a double play out of that, and it ends up squeaking through."

Wood pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on five hits and three walks. Those were the most runs Wood has given up since April 29.

The 23-year-old left-hander struck out six.

Jordan Schafer stole three bases for Atlanta and was caught stealing once.

"Schafer had a great day. He stole three bags, he got on base, played nice defense. And BJ (Upton) been doing nice in the leadoff spot. I'm happy with those guys at the top of the order. Now we need to keep the line moving, and we will," Gonzalez said.

Arismendy Alcantara singled with two outs off Jordan Walden (0-1) in the Cubs ninth and stole second. Ruggiano then got a hit that slipped past shortstop Andrelton Simmons to win it.

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta gave up three runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked three.

Arrieta left with a 4-3 lead but wound up with a no-decision when Cubs closer Hector Rondon (2-3) couldn't hold the lead in the ninth.

Rondon allowed a leadoff double to Jason Heyward in the ninth. After retiring the next two batters, Rondon gave up Bethancourt's single. It was Rondon's third blown save of the season.

Freddie Freeman drove in two runs for Atlanta.

After retiring the first six batters, Wood gave up a leadoff double to Coghlan in the third inning. Coghlan stole third and scored on Arrieta's perfectly executed squeeze. With two outs, Ruggiano's single drove in Mike Olt to make it 2-0.

Arrieta was unable to hold the lead. He walked Schafer in the fourth and gave up his first hit of the game, a double to Simmons. Freeman and Justin Upton had RBI grounders.

In the sixth, Wood reached on an infield single, his first hit in the majors, and moved up on Schafer's sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Freeman doubled off the ivy in center field for a 3-2 lead.

The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Junior Lake struck out and broke the bat over his knee. Coghlan hit a tying single and Braves reliever Shae Simmons walked Luis Valbuena on four straight pitches to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

NOTES: Braves LHP Mike Minor is scheduled to make his second career start against the Cubs on Saturday. In his previous start, he gave up one run in 7 1-3 innings.

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