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Sun, Sep 22, 2013 - 2:20 PM ET
 

Braves-Cubs Preview

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Timely hitting keyed a series-opening win over the Chicago Cubs, but the Atlanta Braves couldn't come through in the clutch and failed to clinch the NL East title on their own Saturday.

With eight games remaining until the playoffs, the Braves are hoping to fix some of their offensive woes Sunday at Wrigley Field.

After going 5 for 13 with runners in scoring position in a 9-5 win Friday, Atlanta (91-63) was 1 for 6 in those situations Saturday in a 3-1 loss to the Cubs (65-90) that kept them from an on-field celebration of their first division title since 2005.

Following another strong start by Kris Medlen, the bullpen coughed up a one-run lead in Chicago's three-run eighth inning. The Braves, however, had a chance to wrap up the NL East crown with a Washington loss to visiting Miami on Saturday night, but that game was postponed due to rain.

"It was nice not to have to see (a celebration) in person,'' Chicago manager Dale Sveum said.

Atlanta's struggles with runners in scoring position has been partly to blame for the team not clinching earlier despite a comfortable division lead. They rank near the bottom of the majors with a .208 average in those situations this month.

The Braves will try to avoid a fourth loss in six road games when they face Edwin Jackson (8-16, 4.75 ERA), who is tied for the major league lead in losses.

Jackson lost for the fifth time in six decisions Monday when he allowed two runs over four innings in a 6-1 defeat at Milwaukee. He wasn't happy about being pulled after 76 pitches in that contest, and television cameras caught him and Sveum having words as Jackson headed down the tunnel toward the clubhouse.

"Everybody wants to stay in the game," Jackson said. "I was ready to battle, but he made his decision.''

Jackson can't be happy about seeing Justin Upton again since the outfielder is 6 for 8 with a home run and two doubles in their matchups. Freddie Freeman is 4 for 8 with a homer, triple and double against the right-hander.

Teammate Chris Johnson is battling Colorado's Michael Cuddyer for the NL batting title with a .332 average. Another contest at Wrigley might help his cause since he's 7 for 11 in his last three games there.

Atlanta's Julio Teheran (12-8, 3.14) hasn't been at his best lately, going 2-2 with a 4.21 ERA in his last four starts after he was 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his previous six outings.

He allowed four runs and seven hits - two homers - over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-0 loss to San Diego last Sunday.

"I felt like I had my best stuff,'' Teheran said. "I felt like all my pitches were working.''

The right-hander struggled in his only career start against the Cubs, yielding five runs and eight hits over five innings before Atlanta rallied late for a 6-5 home win April 6.

Anthony Rizzo homered off Teheran in that contest, and he's 6 for 17 in his last four against Atlanta after delivering a game-tying RBI double in the eighth inning Saturday.

Chicago decided not to release Kevin Gregg after he unloaded to reporters Friday about losing some of his closing responsibilities to Pedro Strop, who struck out the side in the ninth to earn his first save.

Atlanta had won five straight against Chicago before Saturday.

Tagged: Braves, Cubs, Edwin Jackson

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