Chicago Cubs right fielder Justin Ruggiano (20) and relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) celebrate Ruggiano’s walk-off RBI single against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning Friday at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)
CHICAGO — Justin Ruggiano’s single with two outs in the ninth inning drove home rookie Arismendy Alcantara from second base as the Chicago Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on Friday afternoon.
Alcantara, hitless after going 4-for-5 on Thursday, singled with two outs and stole second before Ruggiano’s game-winning base hit to left field.
The Cubs led 4-3 in the ninth before right-handed reliever Hector Rondon gave up a two-out single to catcher Christian Bethancourt to score right fielder Jason Heyward from third for a 4-4 tie.
Rondon (2-3) picked up the win with one inning of work. Braves right-handed reliever Jordon Walden (0-1) took the loss after working two-thirds of an inning.
The victory was the second straight for the Cubs. The Braves dropped their fifth in six games in the opener of a three-game homestand leading into the All-Star Game break.
Cub starter Jake Arrieta had no decision after working 7 2/3 innings. He departed with two runners on and two outs in the eighth. Right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez struck out left fielder Justin Upton on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Braves starter Alex Wood escaped a loss after pitching 5 1/3 innings.
The Braves took a 3-2 lead — their first of the game — in the top of the sixth inning as first baseman Freddie Freeman’s double to deep center drove in Wood from second base to make it 3-2.
But Wood got in a jam in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with none out for left fielder Chris Coghlan, who singled home first baseman Anthony Rizzo from third to tie the score.
Wood left in favor of right-hander Shae Simmons, who walked pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena to score Castro for the go-ahead run and a temporary 4-3 Cubs lead.
Chicago opened a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Arrieta’s sacrifice bunt down the first base line scored Coghlan from third with none out. Third baseman Mike Olt advanced to second and came home on Ruggiano’s two-out single to left-center field.
The Braves got both runs back in the fourth inning as center fielder Jordan Schafer scored on Freeman grounder to second. Andrelton Simmons, whose double to deep right was the Braves’ first hit of the game, crossed the plate on on Justin Upton’s sacrifice to Arrieta.
Wood allowed three earned runs, five hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Arrieta gave up three runs and four hits while walking three and striking out six in 7 2/3 innings.
Coghlan went 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the sixth inning to tie while shortstop Starlin Castro, followed by walking and forcing home a go-ahead run for a temporary 4-3 lead.
Ruggiano went 2-for-5 and Heyward was 2-for-4 for Atlanta.
The series continues with day games on Saturday and Sunday, followed by a four-day All-Star break.
NOTES: The Braves met the Cubs for the fourth time in six scheduled meetings this season. They had already swept Chicago in three games dating to May 9-11 in Atlanta. … Braves C Evan Gattis, out since July 1 with a bulging disk in his back, traveled to Rome, Ga., for a checkup and take some swings as part of his rehab. … Braves 1B Freddie Freeman extended his new on-base streak to two against the Cubs on Friday with a sixth-inning RBI double. He had a 26-game streak snapped on Thursday in New York, then went 2-for-4 with an RBI double on Thursday. … OF B.J. Upton needs one RBI to hit 500 for his career. … The Braves are scheduled to send LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.54 ERA) against Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (5-9, 5.05 ERA) in Saturday’s second game. … Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said before Friday’s game that work on portions of a $575 million Wrigley Field renovation could begin soon following a city landmark’s commission approval on Thursday. … 2B Darwin Barney was activated from paternity leave after this week’s birth of his third child and LHP Zac Rosscup was called up from Triple-A Iowa. In corresponding moves, the Cubs sent RHP Kyle Hendricks and RHP Blake Parker to Iowa. Hendricks made his major league debut Thursday at Cincinnati, allowing four runs in six innings in a 6-4 Cubs win in 12 innings. … Friday’s paid crowd of 39,544 was the largest this season at Wrigley Field.