Cubs keep Braves from clinching

Chicago scores three in 8th inning to win
Cubs keep Braves from clinching

Travis Wood threw seven strong innings and the Chicago Cubs scored three times in the eighth inning, rallying past the Braves for a 3-1 win and temporarily denying Atlanta the NL East championship.

The Braves led 1-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but Anthony Rizzo tied the game with a double off Scott Downs (2-1) and Dioner Navarro put the Cubs in front 2-1 when he singled off David Carpenter. Nate Schierholtz then completed the scoring with his sacrifice fly to center.

Atlanta was five outs away from winning its first division title since 2005 thanks to another strong start from Kris Medlen.

Medlen allowed one run and six hits while striking out six in 7 1/3 innings, but he got a no-decision and saw his four-start winning streak come to an end.

Carlos Villanueva (7-8) pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the win, and Pedro Strop picked up his first save in four chances for the Cubs, who got their first win in five tries against Atlanta this season.

The Braves could still clinch the division title later Saturday if Miami beats Washington.

The Cubs, meanwhile, aren’t anywhere close to a postseason berth, but Wood continued his breakout season.

Wood threw seven-plus innings and allowed one run and five hits while striking out seven for his 24th quality start, but he wasn’t able to earn his 10th victory of the year.

In the fourth inning, he fell behind partly because of his defense.

Atlanta took a 1-0 lead when Evan Gattis’ single went under the glove of right fielder Schierholtz, allowing Freddie Freeman to score from second. The Braves eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but Wood struck out B.J. Upton looking.

Wood threw 24 pitches in the inning after 35 over the first three.

While Wood cruised before the fourth, Medlen had to work his way out of trouble; he allowed at least one hit in each of the first four innings.

After that, Medlen cruised until the eighth. With one out, Starlin Castro singled, ending Medlen’s day. Downs then allowed a single by Donnie Murphy before Rizzo doubled to left, tying the game at 1. Downs was replaced by Carpenter, who gave up Navarro’s single and Schierholtz’s sacrifice fly.

NOTES: Atlanta OF Jason Heyward was not in the starting lineup, one day after going 0-for-2 in his first day back since breaking his jaw Aug. 21. He came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning, playing right field. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might give Heyward “three or four at-bats again and five or six innings” Sunday. … Kevin Gregg was retained by the Cubs, one day after ranting against the team’s front office, something that led team president Theo Epstein to consider releasing the veteran reliever. Gregg has 32 saves in 37 opportunities, but he thought mistakenly he was losing his job to Strop. Instead, the Cubs are planning to give Strop an occasional save chance to evaluate him. … Atlanta gave C Brian McCann a day off. … The Cubs honored prospects Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks, their minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. … Sunday’s pitching matchup is Atlanta’s Julio Teheran (12-8, 3.14 ERA) against Chicago’s Edwin Jackson (8-16, 4.75 ERA).