CHICAGO (AP) - The NL Central leaders won again, but lost star leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano for up to six weeks with a broken left hand after he was hit by a pitch Wednesday night during a 7-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Soriano was hit in the 2nd inning on an 0-and-2 pitch by Jeff Bennett. The Chicago leadoff man will be in a splint for three weeks. He entered the game with a .284 average, a team-high 15 homers and 40 RBIs.
Bennett's inside pitch caught Soriano as he tried to turn away and he immediately sunk to the ground. Trainer Mark O'Neal and Piniella came out of the dugout. Soriano was one knee while O'Neal examined him, then walked to the dugout.
Mark DeRosa, who started the game at second, switched to Soriano's spot in left field.
Soriano spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a calf injury, during which the Cubs went 9-5.
Bennett made an emergency start after Jair Jurrjens twisted his ankle on the steps leading from the Braves clubhouse after Tuesday night's loss. Normally a reliever, it was Bennett's 4th start of the season and first in seven weeks.
The Cubs got a 1st-inning, 3-run homer from Kosuke Fukudome.
After Soriano had to leave the game in the 2nd, Ryan Theriot delivered a 2-run double to put the Cubs up 5-0.
Bennett couldn't retire a batter in the 3rd as Ramirez singled past 2nd baseman Kelly Johnson. Fukudome walked and Geovany Soto singled to load the bases, then Jim Edmonds then hit a two-run single to center to finish Bennett and put the Cubs up 7-0.
Bennett gave up 7 hits and 7 earned runs in 2+ innings, leaving to boos when he was driven out in the 3rd, mainly because he'd hit Soriano.
Winning pitcher Ryan Dempster is now 8-0 this season at Wrigley Field. He struck out 11 as the Cubs, who have not been to a World Series since 1945, improve to 28-8 at home this year.
Pinch-hitter Corky Miller had a 2-run homer for the Braves.
Chipper Jones, who didn't start the last two games because of a small tear in his right quadriceps, went 1-for-3. He was not able to run at full speed and left the game after striking out in the top of the 6th.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)