Justin Ruggiano's walk-off hit lifts Cubs over Braves, 5-4

Chicago TribuneJuly 11, 2014 

The Chicago Cubs clubhouse was lively and upbeat prior to Friday's series-opener against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had snapped a season-long six-game losing streak with a win over the Reds Thursday in 12 innings. In addition, the entire Cubs team was ecstatic about teammate Anthony Rizzo being voted into the All-Star game by the fans in the MLB.com Final Vote.

There was jubilation in the Cubs clubhouse after Justin Ruggiano delivered a game-winning base hit in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 win.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Chris Coghlan opened the inning with a double off the wall in right-centerfield. Coghlan promptly stole third before Mike Olt drew a walk. Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta laid down a sacrifice bunt that allowed Coghlan to score.

Ruggiano singled to score Olt to make it 2-0.

The Braves tied the game 2-2 in the fourth. Jordan Schafer led off with a walk before stealing second. Andrelton Simmons lofted a fly ball into the rightfield corner that dropped for a double.

Schafer managed to advance only to third after misreading the drive. But he scored when Freddie Freeman grounded out to second. Justin Upton hit a soft grounder off the end of his bat to the mound, allowing Simmons to score the tying run.

The Braves took a 3-2 lead on a two-out, RBI double by Freeman in the sixth inning.

The Cubs regained the lead 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth. Rizzo led off with a double before Starlin Castro reached on an infield single. Welington Castillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Coghlan drove in a run with a single. The Braves then brought in reliever Shae Simmons in favor of Alex Wood to face pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena, who drew a walk to force in another run.

The Braves threatened in the eighth when Schafer reached on a walk and Freeman was walked intentionally. With two outs, Arrieta was relieved by righthander neil Ramirez, who struck out Justin Upton to end the threat.

But the Braves tied the game 4-4 with a two-out single by Christian Bethancourt in the ninth off closer Hector Rondon. Jason Heyward had led off the inning with his second double of the game.

Rizzo, 24, becomes the youngest Cubs first baseman to make the NL All-Star team.

"I walked over to the offices and thanked all of the front-office and the people who were working behind the scenes to pump it up and promote it," Rizzo said. "I am just very, very appreciative. My family's ecstatic. We have come a long way, all together."

Rizzo, who garnered 8.8 million votes, will join Castro in next Tuesday's classic in Minneapolis. Manager Rick Renteria gathered the team in the clubhouse following Thursday's emotional win to tell Rizzo and his teammates that Rizzo had been voted in.

"He enjoyed it like a big moment," Castro said. "Everybody enjoyed it because everybody went to the computer and voted for him, too. It was a really good moment in the clubhouse. It was awesome. We put water on him and everything."

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts also was upbeat Friday following the news that the city approved the Wrigley Field renovation plans.

"It is very important for us to get those approvals to move forward," Ricketts said. "We're excited to begin the renovation process, as opposed to the political process."

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