CHICAGO — Nick Markakis entered the day with two home runs. He doubled that and helped the Atlanta Braves to a rare feel-good moment in a rough season.
Markakis’ two homers including a tying solo shot in the ninth inning, and Tyler Flowers’ two-out single in the 11th early Friday morning gave the Braves a 4-3 victory over the slumping Chicago Cubs.
“It was big to get a win, especially against a ball club like that, in ballpark like this,” Markakis said.
The last-place Braves nearly wasted a second straight impressive start for Lucas Harrell, who threw 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball in his second start since 2014.
Willson Contreras hit a two-run triple in a three-run eighth inning off Atlanta’s bullpen to put the Cubs up 3-2. But closer Hector Rondon blew his fourth save when he gave up the second homer to Markakis to lead off the ninth, Atlanta’s first hit since the second inning.
“I knew I hit it good,” Markakis said.
Two innings later, Flowers singled to right off Spencer Patton (1-1) and Freddie Freeman, who walked, barely beat Ben Zobrist’s throw home.
Dario Alvarez (3-1) worked a perfect 10th before giving up consecutive singles to Contreras and Jason Heyward to lead off the 11th.
Mauricio Cabrera came in and got his second save by getting Addison Russell to ground into a double play before Jeimer Candelario flied to center.
“He’s answered the call,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said of Cabrera. “He’s a very confident young man.”
The Braves ended a four-game skid while the Cubs lost for the 13th time in 18 games.
“It happens to everybody,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of his team’s woes. “For anybody out there who believes it doesn’t happen to every team, you’re wrong, it does.”
Tensions boiled after Markakis’ fourth homer. After Rondon struck out Adonis Garcia, Rondon threw an inside fastball to Jeff Francoeur. He and Contreras started jawing, and the benches and bullpens emptied. There was only some pushing and no ejections.
“I called a fastball in and he didn’t appreciate that,” Contreras said. “We were just trying to go in on him. After that he started talking to me and I stood in front of him.”
Before that, Cubs slugger Kris Bryant was twice hit by Harrell, one on a curveball, and Hunter Cervenka plunked Anthony Rizzo.
Markakis put Atlanta ahead with a two-run homer in the first off Jason Hammel. The right-hander settled down to retire 11 straight before he was lifted with cramping in his thumb on the humid night after a four-pitch walk to Gordon Beckham.
Cervenka allowed an RBI single to Zobrist in the eighth. Then Jim Johnson entered and the rookie Contreras hit a sinking liner to center that got by Ender Inciarte and scored two runs.
But the Braves rallied in the makeup of an April 30 rainout that included a scary incident before the game, which was delayed 1 hour, 35 minutes by rain.
A man was carted off Wrigley Field and hospitalized after he slipped and fell to the warning track while attempting to jump from the bleachers before the game. The Cubs didn’t identify the man and didn’t provide his condition.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran, Atlanta’s lone All-Star, returned to the team after being treated for an infection due to ingrown hair on his right thigh. Teheran thinks he’ll start Saturday. “I threw a bullpen today and I feel pretty good,” he said. … Beckham (hamstring) started at shortstop and went 0 for 4 after being activated off the disabled list before the game. Emilio Bonifacio was designated for assignment.
When the Braves travel crosstown Friday night to face the White Sox, they’ll play in their fifth park in seven days. Atlanta was at home Saturday, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Sunday, then had three games in Philadelphia.
The schedule worked out great for Braves RHP Ian Krol, who is from nearby Naperville. He plans to stay in the Chicago area through the All-Star break.
“It’s phenomenal,” Krol said.
Braves: RHP Matt Wisler (3-8, 4.16 ERA) goes up against White Sox ace Chris Sale (14-2, 2.93) on Friday night.