Braves Beat Cubs, Clinch NL East Tie

Chris Johnson came through once again for the Braves

Chris Johnson came through once again for the Braves

A big 9th inning led the Atlanta Braves to clinch at least a tie in the NL East.  The Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 9-5, as Jason Heyward made his return to the Braves lineup.

The Braves got a commanding lead early on Friday, but were not able to hold on to it.  In the 2nd inning, Chris Johnson homered to left field, to get the game’s scoring started.

They added 3 more runs off a long ball in the 3rd inning.  This home run was off the bat of Freddie Freeman.  He sent a ball over the center field fence, with both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton on the bases, to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.

The Cubs were able to get 1 of those runs back in the bottom of the 3rdAnthony Rizzo singled, to bring Starlin Castro, to score the Cubs first run.

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Paul Maholm, the Braves starter, helped his own cause in the 4th, when he crushed a double into the ivy in deep right field. Chris Johnson scored and padded the Braves lead to 5-1.

That’s when the Cubs started their comeback.  They added runs off solo home runs in the 5th and 6th innings from Starlin Castro and Donnie MurphyJunior Lake of the Cubs also scored in the 6th inning, when pinch hitter, Luis Valbuena, singled to left.   After the 6th inning, the Braves held a slim 5-4 lead.

Dioner Navarro was able to get a hold of a no doubter off Braves pitcher, Luis Avalian, in the 7th inning.  Navarro’s home run tied the game up at 5.

It looked like the game was heading for extras until the Braves had a huge 9th inning.  With 2 outs in the 9th, Brian McCann came through with a single to right field.  Jordan Schafer scored and the Braves grabbed the lead again. Chris Johnson then recorded his 3rd hit of the game, with his own single to right. Freddie Freeman scored and the Braves lead 7-5.

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The Braves then added 2 more, when Andrelton Simmons crushed a ball to deep center.  Brian McCann and Paul Janish, running for Johnson, scored and made it 9-5 Braves.

Craig Kimbrel gave up a hit, but retired the Cubs in the 9th inning.

Game MVP:

Chris Johnson: 3-4, 2 R, HR, and 2 RBIs

Johnson continues to be the surprise for the Braves in 2013. His 3 hits were huge for the Braves on Friday afternoon.

With the win, the Braves have clinched at least a tie for the NL East.  They can clinch later tonight if the Marlins are able to beat the Nationals.

If the Nationals win, the Braves can clinch with a win tomorrow in Chicago.  Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.32) will take on Travis Wood (9-11, 3.05) tomorrow afternoon at 4:05.

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Great victory. BJ is a called strike machine. No play offs.