Braves, Foltynewicz drop White Sox, 2-0

They hit the All-Star break as if they actually had a clue. And it was Mike Foltynewicz out front with the flashlight.

Jeff Francoeur and Jace Peterson hit home runs and Foltynewicz took it from there with seven dominant innings as the Braves closed out the White Sox 2-0 on Sunday afternoon. After dark and stormy first half, the sun shown for a few hours on the Southside.

At 31-58 (.348), the Braves were already assured their worst record at the break. The previous worst, by winning percentage, came in 1988 (30-54, .357), when the club went on to lose 106 games, an Atlanta franchise record. (The 1935 Boston Braves lost 115).

But they won their sixth series out of 30 and their first since June 17-19, when they swept the New York Mets. They hit the break at 5-5 over their past 10 and they won three of four in Chicago, counting Thursday’s night extra-inning affair with the Cubs.

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“Anytime you can get away from the field for a few days on a high note, it’s huge,” Peterson said. “We’re going to take it, enjoy the flight home and come back strong after the break.”

After being clubbed for four homers in his last start in Philadelphia, Foltynewicz (3-3) was never better. He struck out a career-high 10 batters while walking none. He ran up only one three-ball count, that coming in the first inning. He fanned the side in his final inning, whiffing Dioner Navarro on a 98-mph fastball. In his third start back from a month off to cool off bone spurs in his elbow, he threw 77 of 106 pitches for strikes.

“Sometimes it takes me a couple innings to get going,” said Foltynewicz, who allowed just one runner past first base. “Once I settled down, it feels pretty good. I was staying aggressive, not letting up the whole game and attacking them.”

All five hits he allowed were singles and he appeared to grow stronger as the day wore on, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced.

“That was electric the entire day,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He was under control. He couldn’t wait to get the ball back early in the game. He started, I thought, to collect himself really good, breathing, relaxed. Really good.”

“About the four or the fifth inning, you could tell he was smelling the finish line,” Francoeur said. “His last pitch was 98? Bringing some cheese.”

And a little long ball. The Braves finished the weekend with eight home runs, which the team had not done since the opening series of the 2009 season.

Peterson provided a 2-0 lead in the third with a lined shot to right that left the park so quickly, right fielder Adam Eaton barely moved. The homer was Peterson’s fourth of the season.

Francoeur, who arrived here Thursday with three home runs all year, hit his second in two days in the second inning for a quick 1-0 advantage. The shot into the left field stands extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games.

“I didn’t think a couple home runs — solo shots — would be enough,” Francoeur said. “Good for us.”

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who has drawn warm ovations all weekend in his former home, recorded some history in the fifth inning, when he sent a gap shot into right center. The resulting double was the 400th of his career, a feat performed by only three other catchers: Ivan Rodriguez (572 career doubles), ex-Brave Ted Simmons (482) and Carlton Fisk (421).

Pierzynski also reversed a troubling trend on the bases when he threw out Anderson attempting to steal in the first inning in a strikeout-caught stealing double play. That marked just the seventh time Braves opponents have been caught stealing in 73 attempts. Entering the game, their 12 percent caught-stealing rate was worst in the majors.

Nick Markakis put one of the finishing touches on the day when Chicago’s Avisail Garcia, facing Chris Withrow to lead off the eighth, drove a ball to the wall in right. Markakis caught it at the top of the fence. Jim Johnson picked up the save, allowing a single to Jose Abreu and then erasing him with a game-ending double-play ball to Melky Cabrera.

“Chicago’s been good to us,” Snitker said.