The Braves broke out for 11 runs on Saturday to thwart the Cubs' chances of a sweep this weekend, but the Cubs could still secure a series victory in the finale on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Travis Wood will be tasked with that challenge, facing Braves ace and first-time All-Star Julio Teheran. An All-Star himself last year after posting a 2.79 ERA in the first half, Wood has a 4.64 ERA in 18 starts this season. And after having his best month of the year in June with a 3.19 ERA, he's been roughed up in July.
Wood has allowed six earned runs in nine innings in his two July starts. He only made it through 5 1/3 innings while allowing three earned runs on eight hits on Tuesday in Cincinnati.
"You always learn more when you see your faults and you see how they're going against you, instead of when everything is running smoothly and you're riding a high horse," Wood said. "To really get cut down, you see what you need to work on [and] build on [to] get the confidence back up."
In the meantime, the Braves will count on Teheran to keep them in first place in the NL East going into the All-Star break. Teheran, who was chosen for his first Midsummer Classic by fellow Major Leaguers, hasn't had a sophomore slump. In 19 turns on the mound, 16 of which were quality starts, the 23-year-old posted a 2.57 ERA and an 8-6 record. He's fanned 110 and walked 28 batters in 129 1/3 innings.
Last year, he was 7-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 113 innings before the All-Star break.
"He gives us a great opportunity every time he goes out there," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's been really, really solid. That's one of the reasons he was named to the All-Star Game."
Braves: J-Hey coming around
Right fielder Jason Heyward went 0-for-14 from June 25 to June 29. The silver lining was he was getting on base via walks -- seven of them, in fact.
In 12 games since then, however, he's dropped 14 hits, four of which went for doubles. He's 3-for-7 against the Cubs in this series.
"Jason has had some pretty good at-bats here in the last five or six games," Gonzalez said. "He had a couple of good at-bats in New York and then two good balls into left-center [Friday]. They looked like they were hit by right-handed hitters. I'm glad he's coming around."
Cubs: Renteria finally getting some time off
Rick Renteria's life got a lot busier starting last October. The Cubs skipper had hip replacement surgery on October 4, was interviewed from his home by several teams with managerial openings while he recovered, and was eventually hired to manage the Cubs.
His first All-Star break as a manager is right around the corner, and he's looking forward to it.
"I'll be honest, I'm going to take a little bit of a blow," he said. "I'm not going home. I'm going to stay here, and try to take a step back a little bit. I went from going through the surgery, the interview process, Spring Training, and it might be the first day of two or three days in a row where I can just take a step back. That's what I'm going to try and do."
• Braves catcher Evan Gattis, who's been on the disabled list with a bulging disk in his lower back since July 1 (retroactive to June 29), worked out with Class A Rome this weekend. He exceeded expectations by taking batting practice and playing catch on Friday. He could begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday.
• The Cubs' Emilio Bonifacio, who's been on the disabled list since June 13 with a right oblique strain, went 3-for-4 as the designated hitter in his first rehab game with the Rookie-level Arizona League Cubs on Friday.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.