CHICAGO – Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wasn't around to see the final two innings from the dugout after being ejected in the seventh inning Monday night.
He wasn't sure after a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs why he got tossed, but he did know that his team missed some big scoring chances in the latter stages of the game.
In the top of the seventh, Atlanta threatened with one out when effective Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija hit Jason Heyward, who'd homered for the Braves' only run in the second. Tyler Pastornicky singled before pinch-hitter Eric Hinske lined to Bryan LaHair at first and he threw to second to double off Heyward and squash the rally.
"We had some chances there in the seventh with (Hinske) at the plate, and he hit a rocket to the first baseman and he doubled us off. They were able to add on some runs late, and that was pretty much the game," Gonzalez said.
When Braves reliever Eric O'Flaherty hit David DeJesus with a two-out pitch in the bottom of the seventh, home plate umpire Chris Conroy warned both benches, prompting Gonzalez to come out of the dugout. Moments later he was ejected by Conroy.
Tony Campana then beat out a bunt and Starlin Castro hit an RBI single to make it 3-1.
"To this day, I still haven't argued. I just asked him for an explanation. I said 'Why would you think we're throwing at people in a one-run game or they're throwing at people in a one-run game?' It's not like it's a 10-run game or anything, it's still a hell of a game going on," Gonzalez said.
"That was just kind of odd that I get thrown out of the game for not even raising my voice."
LaHair and Ian Stewart hit back-to-back homers for the Cubs in the fourth off Tommy Hanson, and Geovany Soto added a two-run shot off Chad Durbin in the eighth.
Demoted Chicago closer Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the eighth and walked the first two batters, eliciting a chorus of boos from the Wrigley Field faithful.
Freddie Freeman lined out before a stolen base and Marmol wild pitch put runners at second and third. Brian McCann took a third strike for the second out and Marmol turned the boos into cheers by striking out Dan Uggla swinging.
"I said I got to throw strikes," Marmol said of his wild inning.
After the strikeout, Marmol came off the mound screaming and pounding himself on the chest.
"Marmol kinda wiggled out of one," Gonzalez said. "I couldn't tell how hard Freeman hit his ball. That was it. We couldn't do much after that."
Samardzija allowed five hits and a run in seven innings, walking two and striking out seven.
"You find what works and stick with it. You got to mix it up. These guys are good," he said. "You get into a fastball mode, these hitters can hit 95, 96 like it's nothing. You got to keep them off balance."
Hanson (3-3) gave up five hits and two runs in six innings. The loss was just the eighth in the last 26 games for the Braves.
"I felt good. Obviously I wasn't good enough, but the back-to-back homers didn't help the cause," Hanson said. "That was all they needed."
Notes: Heyward entered the game with a career .342 average against the Cubs and now has five homers against them. ... Braves CF Michael Bourn made two nice running catches, going over his shoulder to grab LaHair's drive in the second and racing to left center to rob Soto of extra bases in the third. He also extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield hit to short in the third. ... The Cubs hit back-to-back homers for the first time since last August when Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena — neither of whom is still with the team — connected against Washington. ... LaHair has now reached base in 25 straight games. ... Game-time temperature was 56 and a light fog began rolling in during the late innings.