Chicago Cubs delay Atlanta Braves celebration with 3-1 win

Chicago Cubs delay Atlanta Braves celebration with 3-1 win

September 22nd, 2013 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood delivers against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Chicago.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

CHICAGO - The Cubs didn't want to see a championship celebration at Wrigley Field - not if the other team would have been whooping it up.

A late rally prevented that.

Dioner Navarro hit a tiebreaking single in a three-run eighth inning, and the Cubs beat Atlanta 3-1 Saturday to keep the Braves on the brink of the National League East title.

Atlanta's magic number remained at one to clinch its first division title since 2005. Second-place Washington was to host Miami in a rain-delayed game Saturday night.

Either way, the Cubs didn't have to watch a celebration.

"One day, hopefully, that'll be us and we can move forward from that," Travis Wood said.

The Cubs are a long way from contention, of course. They have 90 losses and are last in the NL Central, with another brutal season coming to a finish.

Not having to witness the Braves' clinching was just one small victory.

"It was nice not to have to see [a celebration] in person," manager Dale Sveum said.

Starlin Casto singled off Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen with one out in the eighth, pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy singled against Scott Downs (2-1) and Anthony Rizzo hit a tying double down the left-field line.

Navarro singled in the go-ahead run against David Carpenter, and Nate Schierholtz added a sacrifice fly.

"They just made some good swings," Atlanta catcher Gerald Laird said. "Rizzo went out and got that ball, hit it down the line. Dioner hit that slider down and in. You've got to tip your cap to them."

Medlen held Chicago to one run and six hits in 7 1/3 innings after going 4-0 with an 0.98 ERA in his previous four starts.

"It's tough, but I'm a former bullpen guy, and I know how tough that job is," Medlen said. "The dudes do their best. They've carried us the entire year, so these things happen and nobody in this clubhouse is panicking at all or anything.

"Credit their pitcher with keeping the game close, too. [Travis] Wood's having a great year. I felt it all game. I felt like it was in my hands, and the game was over. I had all the confidence in the world in myself, and I just tried making pitches."

Carlos Villanueva (7-8) relieved Wood with two on and no outs in the eighth after Justin Upton doubled and Freddie Freeman walked. Villanueva induced a double-play grounder by Chris Johnson and a flyout by Evan Gattis.

Pedro Strop struck out the side in the ninth for his first save in four chances.

Atlanta went ahead in the fourth when Freeman walked and scored on Gattis' single. But B.J. Upton struck out looking with the bases loaded to end the rally.

Wood settled down after that, allowing one run, five hits and four walks in seven innings with seven strikeouts.

"I had pretty command of most my pitches, being able to locate my fastball and getting the cutter on their hands and get some early swings and some quick outs," Wood said. "Just that last inning kind of got away from me quick. I really wanted to go out there and finish it strong and maybe overtried a little bit and left a pitch over that Upton could hit, and Freeman battled me."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said outfielder Jason Heyward "was feeling great" a day after Heyward returned from the disabled list. Heyward was not in the lineup Saturday after going 0-for-2 with a walk Friday in his first appearance since breaking his jaw on Aug. 21 because of a broken jaw.

Julio Teheran (12-8, 3.14 ERA) starts on the mound today for Atlanta, with fellow right-hander Edwin Jackson (8-16, 4.75) pitching for Chicago.