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Braves offense lifeless in 4-0 loss to Cubs

The Atlanta Braves failed to mount any offense in a 4-0 loss to Jon Lester and the Chicago Cubs.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs starter Jon Lester turned in a fabulous performance and Atlanta's bats once again fell silent in a 4-0 loss at Turner Field.

Lester was in control from the outset and took a no hitter into the eighth inning before A.J. Pierzynski broke it up with a solid single to right field. Lester allowed two hits and struck out seven over 7 1/3 innings. Nick Markakis was initially credited with a first inning single on a ground ball that eluded third baseman Kris Bryant. However, that play was later changed to an error and set up the possible no hitter bid.

Atlanta's best chance to score came in the eighth inning. Following Pierzynski's single, Juan Uribe hit a deep drive into the left center gap that the wind held up just enough for Dexter Fowler to run down for the out. Andrelton Simmons followed with a base hit up the middle to chase Lester from the game. However, the Braves failed to produce a timely hit as Hector Rondon came on and got Kelly Johnson to fly to left and then struck out Jace Peterson to end the threat.

Chicago got the only run they would need in the third inning off of Braves starter Manny Banuelos. Bryant started the rally with a two out single to left. He later advanced to third on an errant pick off attempt by Banuelos. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single to stake the Cubs to an early 1-0 lead. Chicago increased the lead to 2-0 in the fourth on an RBI hit by Starlin Castro.

The score would remain at 2-0 until the ninth when the Cubs were able to tack on a pair of insurance runs. A one out single by Addison Russell and a walk to Fowler by reliever Ryan Kelly set things in motion. Bryant then grounded to Uribe who stepped on third for one out, but Chris Johnson was unable to handle Uribe's double play attempt allowing Fowler to score and Bryant to advance all the way to third base. Kelly was replaced by Ross Detwiler who was promptly greeted by an RBI single by Rizzo to make the score 4-0. Jason Motte pitched a scoreless ninth to close things out.

Banuelos allowed six hits and two runs (1 earned) in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three while suffering his first loss of the season. Jason Frasor also made his Atlanta debut working out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth.

The series wraps up on Sunday as Shelby Miller takes his turn on the mound for Atlanta. He will be opposed by Chicago's Jake Arrieta.

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