CHICAGO - From the Atlanta Braves perspective, the only thing worse than losing a doubleheader at Wrigley Field is knowing they could have easily won both games.
So, they did the next best thing.
Frustrated by a 3-2 loss to the Cubs in the opener Friday afternoon, the Braves scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning of the second game and salvaged a split of the twinbill, winning 6-5 before a crowd of 31,548.
"It just seemed like one of those days where everything was going their way," Braves shortstop Chipper Jones said. "True to form, we took advantage of some mistakes and that was the difference."
The victory in the nightcap was Atlanta's 19th win in its last at-bat this season.
Playing their first doubleheader at Wrigley in eight years, the Braves were held to three hits by Cubs right-hander Kevin Foster in the first game. The win was his second against the Braves in five days and in 16 innings he has yielded only nine hits and four runs.
The Braves produced 12 hits in the second game, but thanks to some ineffective work by reliever Brad Clontz, they still needed shortstop Jose Hernandez's third error of the game, Jones' RBI single and a sacrifice fly from pinch hitter Marquis Grissom to score twice in the ninth inning.
"We never should have blown it," said a visibly frustrated Bobby Cox.
Clontz may be pitching himself off the postseason roster. Leading 4-2 in the seventh, he loaded the bases with no outs and gave way to Greg McMichael, who almost escaped the jam. But after striking out Scott Bullett and Mark Grace, McMichael gave up a triple off the center field wall to Luis Gonzalez for a 5-4 Cubs lead.
"We can't pitch McMichael every day, we'll burn him out," Cox said. "Clontz has got to give us a full inning or two someday. He's got to start doing that."
Joe Borowski (2-1) worked the eighth inning, then Mark Wohlers came on as the shadows deepened across the field and struck out the side in the ninth for his 34th save.
"Lee Smith made a lot of money doing that here," Wohlers said. "When you're pitching in shadow with a light background, it's tough to pick up the ball."
Tom Glavine (13-8) would like a pair of pitches back from the first game. His first mistake was giving up a bases-loaded single to Foster in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. Glavine knew better. Foster had a run-scoring single against him in the Cubs' 3-2 victory last Sunday in Atlanta and came into Friday's game hitting .313.
Glavine's second mistake was a leadoff double to the .179-hitting Ozzie Timmons in the eighth. Timmons scored the go-ahead run on Ryne Sandberg's infield hit, dealing Glavine only his second loss in seven career decisions at Wrigley.
Much like Greg Maddux, Glavine has not been supported by the Braves' lineup this year. Friday's performance marked the 11th time in 30 starts this season he's taken a no-decision or a loss in a game in which he's allowed three earned runs or less.
Glavine has the major league's third-best earned run average (2.83), his best since posting a 2.76 ERA during a 20-win season in 1992, but the loss was his third in his last four decisions and with only five or six starts remaining, he won't win 20.
"It's frustrating because you go out there and pitch well and expect to win," Glavine said. "Sometimes it doesn't happen. I'm a firm believer in that it evens out, but it hasn't this year."
As well as Glavine pitched, Foster (6-2) was a little bit better. Two of the hits he gave up arrived in the fourth inning when the Braves scored both runs.
As it turned out, Ryan Klesko's RBI single was Atlanta's last hit of the game. Jermaine Dye followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, but the Braves failed to advance another runner past first base in the final five innings.
That was frustrating enough. Then came a second game that seemed to have slipped from the Braves' grasp, until another remarkable ninth inning.
"They had the game in control," Jones said. "But we had some clutch hitting and we came back. That's what we've done ever since I can remember."