ATLANTA — Jeff Samardzija’s splitter baffled the Atlanta Braves.
Samardzija had a career-high 11 strikeouts, Luis Valbuena hit a tiebreaking three-run double in the seventh and the Chicago Cubs won 4-1 on Monday night.
Samardzija (6-7) yielded one run and four hits in seven innings, rebounding from a rough June. The right-hander was 0-4 with a 12.27 ERA in his previous four starts, allowing a season-high nine runs during a 17-1 loss to the Mets on Wednesday.
“It’s about time, you know?” Samardzija said.
“I just thought I took my time from pitch to pitch. I thought I made the right pitch selection based on the previous pitch.”
Samardzija began the night with a 5.05 ERA. But he also was sharp in his first start against Atlanta this season, tossing seven solid innings in a 5-1 victory at Wrigley Field on May 7.
Anthony Rizzo connected for Chicago, which has won four in a row and six of seven. Rizzo, one of the Cubs’ top prospects, has two homers in six games since he was recalled on Tuesday.
Hanson (9-5) gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings for his first loss since May 28. He went 4-0 with a 3.13 ERA in June.
Hanson made it through seven innings for only the sixth time in 17 starts, but appeared to fade in his final inning.
Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger started the seventh with singles, and Darwin Barney walked to load the bases. Valbuena then doubled to right field for a 4-1 lead.
“I wanted to throw a back-door slider right there and it kind of leaked over the middle,” Hanson said.
“I felt really good with my stuff. I was throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys. It just came down to that last inning.”
Rizzo hit Hanson’s first pitch of the fourth inning over the wall in left-center for his second homer.
Atlanta tied it in the sixth. With two outs, Michael Bourn doubled to left field and scored on Martin Prado’s single.
The Braves’ only hit through five innings came with two outs in the second, when Dan Uggla, hustling all the way, beat out a grounder to shortstop Starlin Castro.
Andrelton Simmons led off the Atlanta third with a walk, took second on his first career stolen base and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Samardzija. Hanson then struck out and Bourn lined into a double play.
Barney made a diving stop on Simmons’ ground ball behind second base and threw him out in the eighth. The second baseman then went the other way to snag a sharply hit grounder by pinch-hitter Eric Hinske for the second out.