Wells flirts with no-no, but Cubs lose in 12th
Bullpen falters after rookie gives up first hit in seventh
ATLANTA -- Randy Wells lost his no-hit bid in the seventh inning. Then his first Major League victory vanished.
The Cubs were hoping that the end of May would bring a fresh start. Instead, their first game in June quickly turned from a dream into a nightmare.
"We gave the ballgame away," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after the 6-5 loss in 12 innings to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night at Turner Field.
No one could argue.
Chicago's defense and bullpen both faltered, with Atlanta scoring two unearned runs in the eighth inning and forcing extra innings in the ninth after the game should have been over.
The Braves tied it on Jeff Francoeur's two-run homer off reliever Kevin Gregg with two outs. The Cubs should have been out of the inning, but Garret Anderson reached on a wild pitch after striking out two batters earlier.
Then Atlanta won it in the 12th on Chipper Jones' one-out RBI single on a 3-2 pitch from Aaron Heilman -- Chicago's fifth pitcher. Yunel Escobar had singled and stolen second base.
It was Jones, the reigning National League batting champion, who broke up Wells' no-hit bit with two outs in the seventh inning. And just like on the game-winner, the switch-hitter went the other way and lined the ball to left field.
"I don't care what anyone says, you are aware of it," Wells said of the no-hitter.
But that vanished when Jones connected with a 1-0 pitch and drove the ball to the opposite field.
"I left a slider over the plate, and Chipper did what he was supposed to do with it," the rookie right-hander said.
Wells, 26, has a 1.69 ERA in five starts since being promoted from Triple-A Iowa, but his record is 0-2.
"You can't pitch any better than he has," Piniella said. "He should be 4-0."
Wells got his first Major League hit and first RBI with on a second-inning single.
"At least I got that out of the way," he said.
Wells, who struck out four, had faced the minimum until Jones' single. Escobar was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning, but he was wiped out by a double play.
Wells lost his shutout bid in the eighth inning, when Anderson led off by hitting his second home run of the season. It came on a fastball that slipped back over the center of the plate.
After an error by first baseman Derrek Lee, Piniella pulled Wells, who had made 83 pitches. The Braves added two unearned runs, thanks to Carlos Marmol's wildness.
"I need to throw more strikes," Marmol said. "I've got to work out of this."
But it looked like Wells would still get his first win, even with the Cubs' lead cut in half.
Gregg had eight saves in nine opportunities. He couldn't get this one, though.
In the ninth, Anderson swung and missed on strike three for what should have been the second out. But the ball was in the dirt and got by catcher Geovany Soto.
"I don't know what happened," Piniella said.
Martin Prado flew out to center field and the game should have been over. Unfortunately for the Cubs, it wasn't.
With two outs, Gregg threw a 2-1 fastball where Francoeur could handle it. The resulting homer forced extra innings and cost Wells his first win.
"I blew a two-run lead, that's how I look at it," Gregg said, not using the botched strikeout as an excuse. "I should have got out of it. I made a mistake to Francoeur."
Alfonso Soriano hit his 54th leadoff home run -- moving into second place all alone on the career list -- and Lee added a homer in the eighth inning to seemingly wrap things up.
But the story went from Wells' no-hit bid to the Cubs' late implosion.
"It was a game you thought you had won," Lee said.
"Randy definitely deserved the win," Gregg said.
Wells didn't get it, and the Cubs have lost 11 of their past 15 games.
Wells tried to see the big picture. "I'm not really worried about that now," he said of having his first win slip away.
But he had to admit later, "It stinks not getting the win. But stuff happens. That's baseball."
Guy Curtwright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.