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Short drives in go-ahead run as Braves top Cubs 2-0 despite another strong start from Imanaga

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ATLANTA (AP) — Zack Short made the most of his first start with Atlanta by breaking a scoreless tie with a run-scoring double in the sixth and the Braves spoiled another strong start by Chicago rookie Shota Imanaga to beat the Cubs 2-0 on Monday night.

Short, who filled in at third base while Austin Riley was held out with tightness in his left side, lined a pitch from right-hander Hayden Wesneski (2-2) into the right field corner to drive in Travis d’Arnaud, who doubled with two outs.

“Big. That was great,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Short.

Ronald Acuña Jr. followed with a single to left field to drive in Short for a 2-0 lead.

Imanaga threw five scoreless innings, extending his team record to eight consecutive starts to begin his career without allowing more than two runs. Imanaga stranded two baserunners in the second and third innings and left the bases loaded in the fourth.

“I would say the quality of my fastball was good,” Imanaga said through a translator. “However, knowing the quality of the Braves offense, I was being a little careful. I would have liked to have gone another inning.”

Imanaga had eight strikeouts and lowered his majors-leading ERA to 0.96 despite giving up seven hits with three walks.

“They extended some at-bats on him and he fell behind more often than we’ve seen but it’s still five zeroes,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “He definitely gave us a chance to win.”

Counsell was ejected in the fourth inning soon after first base umpire Junior Valentine ruled Acuña successfully checked his swing with two outs and the bases loaded. Imanaga escaped the jam on Acuña’s fly ball to right field.

It was Counsell’s 29th ejection of his career and first with the Cubs.

Braves right-hander Reynaldo López threw five scoreless innings while giving up two hits and two walks. López’s outing was shortened by back tightness but he is not expected to miss a start.

Left-hander Ray Kerr (1-0) recorded three strikeouts in two perfect innings. A.J. Minter pitched the ninth, stranding two baserunners, to earn his first save in four chances, one day after a blown save in a 4-3 loss at the New York Mets.

Acuña, who was picked off first base twice in Sunday’s loss at the Mets, was picked off by Imanaga following a first-inning walk.

“What can I say? I was definitely caught by surprise,” Acuña said through a translator. “There’s no excuse for it. Those are missed opportunities for the team and something I have to get better at.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right forearm strain. RHP José Cuas was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Alzolay is 1-4 with a 4.67 ERA and has four saves in nine opportunities. … OF David Peralta opted out of his minor league contract to become a free agent. … Counsell had no update on Christopher Morel, who was replaced by pinch-runner Pete Crow-Armstrong after drawing a walk in the ninth and then showing discomfort in the batter’s box.

Braves: Snitker said a MRI showed only inflammation in Riley’s left side. Snitker said Riley will have more treatment on Tuesday but is not expected to spend time on the IL. Short made his first start for Atlanta four days after he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox.

UP NEXT

Braves LHP Chris Sale (5-1, 2.95) will face Cubs RHP Jameson Taillon (3-0, 1.13) on Tuesday night. Sale is 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in five career games, including three starts, in his career against Chicago.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer

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