Anthony Rizzo sparked a three-run eighth inning to help the Chicago Cubs come from behind and defeat the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, in the second game of a three-game set.
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.
"We had some opportunities to add on some runs and couldn't get those runs plated. When you don't get those add-on runs, it always seems to come back to haunt you," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Chris Johnson went 2-for-4 for Atlanta. Their magic number sits at one. They can still clinch the division title with a win or a Washington loss.
"It was nice not to have to see (a celebration) in person," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said.
The Braves got on the scoreboard first. After a strikeout to Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman worked a walk. Johnson stroked a soft liner into shallow right and Freeman crossed the plate after Evan Gattis sent a groundball out to the right side. Gattis moved up to second when Schierholtz misplayed the ball for a fielding error. Dan Uggla was walked to load the bases again, but Wood struck out B.J. Upton to end the inning.
Atlanta threatened but failed to add more runs in the eighth. Justin Upton led off the inning with a stand up double after smacking a line drive into the left field corner. After a walk to Freeman, Villanueva replaced Wood. Luis Valbuena grabbed Johnson's grounder, stepped on third, and threw to first to turn the double play. Gattis flew out to right to end the Atlanta threat.
Pedro Strop struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Schierholtz extended his hitting streak to five games ... Atlanta leads the season series 4-1 ... The Braves went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.