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Tuesday February 9th, 2016 11:46PM

Braves inch closer

By The Associated Press
CHICAGO - Chris Johnson went 3 for 4 with a home run, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 9-5 on Friday to reduce their magic number to clinch the NL East to one.

The Braves broke open a tie game in the top of the ninth inning with four runs all with two outs. Brian McCann and Johnson each had an RBI single, and Andrelton Simmons followed with a two-run double.

Freddie Freeman earlier hit a three-run homer for Atlanta.

David Carpenter (4-1) pitched a scoreless eighth to get the win. Kevin Gregg (2-5) took the loss for the Cubs, who wasted three home runs.

Atlanta starter Paul Maholm, twice staked to a four-run lead, allowed eight hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings. Chicago's Scott Baker allowed only four hits in four innings but was tagged for five runs.

The Braves got the slugfest going in the second inning with a solo homer by Johnson. Freeman followed with his three-run blast in the third for a 4-0 lead.

They led 5-1 going into the bottom of the fifth before Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro led off with a solo homer. Third baseman Donnie Murphy did the same thing in the sixth to make it 5-3. With two outs, Luis Valbuena's pinch-hit RBI single made it 5-4.

Catcher Dioner Navarro then tied the score in the seventh with another solo homer, this one a rocket over the left-field bleachers and onto Waveland Ave.

GAME NOTES: The Braves activated OF Jason Heyward before the game. He wore a facemask attached to the right side of his batting helmet to protect the right jaw fractured Aug. 21 when he was struck by a pitch from the Mets' Jon Niese. ``I'm just really excited and happy to be back,'' he said. ``I'm not going to be as good today as I will be in five days, but you have to start the process sometime.'' As planned, Heyward played just five innings, going 0 for 2 with a walk. . The Cubs announced before the game that C Wellington Castillo has partially torn meniscus in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season. He will undergo arthroscopic surgery, and the expected recovery time is 4 to 6 weeks. . The series continues Saturday with Cubs LHP Travis Wood (9-11) going against RHP Kris Medlen (14-12).
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