On verge of division title, Braves try to finish off Cubs

7:52 AM, Sep 22, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves have three chances to clinch the NL East crown on Sunday.

With a magic number of one to wrap up their first division title since 2005, the Braves can secure the championship with a victory against the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. The Braves could also become division champs if Washington loses either of its doubleheader games against the Miami Marlins on Sunday.

Atlanta's celebration was put on hold yesterday thanks to a 3-1 loss.

Anthony Rizzo sparked a three-run eighth inning to help the Cubs come from behind. After a pair of singles from Starlin Castro and Donnie Murphy, Rizzo put a line drive right on the left-field line to plate Castro with a double. Dioner Navarro then smacked a liner into right field, scoring Murphy to put the Cubs ahead. Nate Schierholtz extended the lead on a sacrifice fly out to center which brought in Rizzo for a 3-1 lead.

Castro and Brian Bogusevic both had two hits for the Cubs, who have won two of their last three games.

Carlos Villanueva (7-8) recorded three outs in the eighth to earn the victory. Starter Travis Wood allowed one run on five hits with seven strikeouts across seven-plus innings.

Scott Downs (2-1) pitched to two batters in the eighth and was reached for two runs. Kris Medlen tossed 7 1/3 innings and held the Cubs to one run on six hits with six strikeouts.

"That's a great team," Rizzo said. "Medlen shut us down. To come back like that in the eighth, they have a really good bullpen ... it was a good one for us today."

Chris Johnson went 2-for-4 for Atlanta, which wasted chances with men in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings.

"When you don't get those add-on runs, it always comes back to haunt you," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Braves turn to Julio Teheran for today's start. The right-hander is coming off a loss against San Diego Monday when he allowed seven hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings. This will be his second career start against the Cubs.

Edwin Jackson, who is tied for the major league lead in losses, takes the mound for the Cubs. Jackson is 1-5 over his last eight trips to the hill. He's 0-1 with a 3.62 ERA in six games (4 starts) in his career versus the Braves.

Atlanta is 4-1 versus the Cubs this season.

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