Markakis plates winner as Braves earn split

Markakis plates winner as Braves earn split

CHICAGO -- Nick Markakis hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the 10th inning Sunday to lift the Braves to a 4-3 victory over the Cubs, who had rallied to tie the game in the ninth. With the win, Atlanta snapped a seven-game losing streak against Chicago.

Daniel Castro singled with one out in the Braves' 10th against Hector Rondon, and reached third on Mallex Smith's single. Castro then scored on Markakis' fly ball to left.

"It felt great to get that win, we needed it," said Smith, who highlighted his three-hit performance with a hit-and-run single in the 10th that moved Castro to third base. "We need to keep winning. This is something we're just going to try to continue to build on."

Chicago scored two runs in the eighth and trailed 3-2 in the ninth against Arodys Vizcaino when Ben Zobrist walked, and one out later, reached third on a throwing error by the Braves pitcher, who bounced his pickoff throw past first baseman Freddie Freeman. Addison Russell, whose error in the sixth led to an unearned run, then hit a RBI single to right to tie the game.

"We did a lot of things well," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We had one mistake on defense, and I thought it was a little bit of a tough hop for Addy, but otherwise, they hit some balls well today, and we hit some balls well today without any luck. I appreciate how our guys came back and had a chance to win the game. It was another entertaining game from the fans' perspective. I like the fight in our group."

Atlanta starter Julio Teheran was in line for the win after striking out nine in seven scoreless innings. The Braves took advantage of an error by Russell in the sixth to score two runs against Chicago's John Lackey.

Finding a way:
After the Braves loaded the bases with a single and two walks in the sixth, Adonis Garcia produced a grounder that would have likely resulted in an inning-ending double play had Russell not fumbled the ball, allowing Smith to score. Kelly Johnson followed with another grounder that could have resulted in a double play. But Garcia ducked under the tag second baseman Zobrist attempted to apply before throwing to first base for a force out. Markakis crossed the plate though Garcia was tagged out at the end of a rundown.

"We'll take it, we've given enough away like that," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team has notched two of its six wins within the past three games. "There's a good chance they'll turn [the double play] with Garcia running. They didn't, so we capitalized with a run, and then Garcia did a nice job on the baserunning there of avoiding a tag, and then we get another run."

Start me up: Lackey had his best outing with the Cubs. He gave up three hits and walked three over eight innings. The right-hander retired the first nine batters he faced. He struck out two, and now is six strikeouts away from 2,000 for his career. Four active pitchers -- CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez and Jake Peavy -- have reached 2,000 K's.

"I felt great," Lackey said. "I threw the ball pretty well and was locating pretty much everything." More >

Two in a row: Teheran struggled throughout a frustrating 2015 season, and he did not provide much promise through this season's first few weeks. But the right-hander looked a lot more like himself this week as he completed this gem just six days after limiting the Red Sox to one run over seven innings. After allowing a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler and issuing a two-out walk to Anthony Rizzo in the first, the Braves right-hander retired 19 of the final 21 batters he faced. He notched three of his nine strikeouts against Kris Bryant. More >

Teheran's seven strong innings

Eighth inning: Once Teheran exited, the Cubs mounted a short rally. With one out in the eighth against Jim Johnson, pinch-hitter Matt Szczur reached on a bunt single and advanced to third on Fowler's double. Hunter Cervenka replaced Johnson, and induced an RBI groundout from Heyward. Bryant, starting for the first time since he sprained his right ankle on Thursday, then smacked a RBI single to pull within 3-2.

Bryant's RBI single

"[The Cubs] have got a great team. They've got a good bullpen. Their starting rotation may be one of the best in all of baseball. Their expectations are high as they should be because they have a good club. For us to come in and split two games, it's good. I like the way we're playing baseball here of late." -- Gonzalez

"I write on [my lineup card] every day, 'Be present, not perfect.' I don't expect perfection. We played 10 innings hard, and we came up a little short." -- Maddon

Sunday was the Cubs' first extra inning game of the season in Game No. 23 of the season. It's the most games to begin a season without extra innings since 2006, when the Cubs played their first 27 games in regulation.

Smith led off the eighth with a line drive into the left-field gap. Smith rounded second trying to stretch the hit into a triple, but Bryant grabbed the ball and started a 7-6-5 relay to get Smith at third. The Braves challenged the ruling as it appeared Smith's hand might have reached the base for he was tagged, but the out call stood after review. More >

La Stella tags out Smith

Braves: Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound when Atlanta opens a three-game set against the Mets on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Citi Field. Foltynewicz will fill the rotation spot that opened when Bud Norris moved to the bullpen.

Cubs: Jason Hammel will open the Cubs' three-game series against their division rivals, the Pirates, on Monday. Hammel has given up one or zero runs in six innings in each of his first four starts. He's 5-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 12 career appearances against the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for based in Chicago.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.