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Alcantara steps up, but Jackson and Cubs fall to Braves 11-6

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CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs like to believe better days are ahead. Arismendy Alcantara is one youngster who gives them hope.

While the Atlanta Braves had their way in an 11-6 slugfest Saturday, Alcantara made his debut in centre field and the 22-year-old doubled and singled to raise his batting average to .389 in four games. He also scored twice.

"Awesome," Alcantara said of his first week in the big leagues. "It's something special. ... I just come to the field and try to do my job. I feel that I am ready."

Cubs manager Rick Renteria thinks so, too.

"He looked the exactly the way he did in batting practice the other day," Renteria said. "He's obviously an athlete. He has a feel (for the game). His routes (to the ball) were good, at least on this day."

The news wasn't nearly as good for Edwin Jackson, who was hit hard and failed to improve his trade value once again.

In a performance that Jackson called "embarrassing" and "unacceptable," the veteran was rocked for nine runs in 3-2 innings. He allowed four walks and seven hits, which included three home runs and a pair of doubles.

"It doesn't matter who you're pitching against — those balls can be hit," said Jackson, who has two years and $22 million left on his contract. "I have to do a better job keeping the ball down and making adjustments, which I didn't do today."

Asked whether Jackson (5-10) could be moved to the bullpen, Renteria said, "That's a good question."

After some hesitation, he added, "I would say the answer is no."

Chris Johnson homered twice and pitcher Mike Minor hit his second career home run for the Braves, while Johnson and Justin Upton each drove in four runs. Johnson and Minor homered and Upton hit a three-run double in the decisive fourth inning, when Atlanta scored six times to take a 9-3 lead.

"Today is one of those days we need all the offence we can get because the wind is blowing out — a typical Wrigley Field wind blowing out," said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team won for the second time in seven games. "We never felt comfortable. The ball kept travelling."

Minor (3-5) allowed six runs and 11 hits in six innings. He improved to 6-0 against the Cubs in his career.

Chris Coghlan hit two doubles and drove in three runs for the Cubs, who have lost seven of nine.

Upton and Justin Heyward had RBI singles for Atlanta in the ninth inning. David Carpenter pitched two innings for his third save.

The Cubs scored three runs in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 9-6. One run scored on a passed ball before Coghlan hit a two-run double.

Johnson's second homer of the day and fifth of the season was a two-run shot and made it 5-3 in the fourth inning. Johnson's third career multihomer game was his first since the 2012 season. Minor padded the lead with a solo shot.

After Jackson departed with the bases loaded and two outs, Upton greeted Carlos Villanueva with a double.

Chicago went ahead 1-0 in the first inning on Justin Ruggiano's RBI single.

NOTES: Alcantara had played three games at second base. He played 11 games in centre field at Triple-A Iowa this season. "Like anything, he's a young man also just starting that position," Renteria said. "We're hoping it fares well and his athleticism and his ability to move around and play the game allows him the opportunity to be OK out there." ... Gonzalez was undecided about the order of his five-man rotation after the All-Star break, but said Minor and Alex Wood would be staggered. "It depends on what happens in the next two days, who's healthy and if somebody needs a few extra days," Gonzalez said. ... Braves C Evan Gattis (bulging disk) was scheduled to take part in light drills and batting practice at the Class-A facility in Rome, Georgia, for the second straight day. While encouraged, Gonzalez said no timetable had been set for his return from the disabled list.

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