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Rapid Reaction: Braves 9, Cubs 5

9/20/2013

CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 9-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday at Wrigley Field.

How it happened: Kevin Gregg gave up four runs in the top of the ninth inning. Dioner Navarro had tied the game 5-5 in the seventh with his 13th home run as the Cubs fought back from a 5-1 early deficit. Gregg simply didn’t have his best stuff, walking three and giving up three hits. Starter Scott Baker wasn’t sharp and the Braves took advantage, hitting home runs off him in the second and third innings. The big blow came off the bat of Freddie Freeman after Baker walked two in a row in the third. Chris Johnson got Atlanta on the board with a solo shot while the Braves added a run in the fourth on an RBI double by pitcher Paul Maholm. Baker was done after four innings. An RBI single by Anthony Rizzo got the Cubs their first run in the third inning while Starlin Castro homered in the fifth and Donnie Murphy did the same in the sixth.

What it means: Baker finally came back down to Earth after two fantastic starts coming off Tommy John rehab. The home runs aren’t unexpected -- the Braves hit a lot of them -- but the walks really put him in a hole. ... Rizzo has come out of his slump and Castro continues to look better at the plate as well. ... With the victory the Braves clinched at least a tie for the NL East.

Outside the box: The Cubs face three opponents (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Louis) over the final 10 days who could be clinching playoff spots or division titles against them.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” manager Dale Sveum said before the game. “It’s a bad thing if you lost that game for them to clinch it. But it’s not a bad thing to see people, when you haven’t done it, and to see it in person it hits hard in your stomach. You want to be that guy.”

What’s next: Game 2 of the series takes place on Saturday when Travis Wood opposes Kris Medlen at 3:05 pm.