Jones' RBI single in 9th helps Braves beat Dodgers
LOS ANGELES (AP) Chipper Jones left Dodger Stadium for perhaps the last time with some more fond memories.
One night after homering on his 40th birthday, Jones singled home the go-ahead run in his final regular season at-bat at Chavez Ravine after Dan Uggla tied it with his second RBI single earlier in the ninth inning, and the Atlanta Braves defeated Los Angeles 4-2 Wednesday night.
Jones also made a couple of fielding gems at third base, robbing A.J. Ellis of a potential RBI single in the hole with a diving stop and then throwing him out to end the sixth, then doing the same to Dee Gordon to end the game.
"I was like a school kid out there. I mean, that's what you play the game for - moments like that," Jones said. "You don't know how many times I've rehearsed that very moment in my backyard growing up, only I was a Dodger. It's indescribable.
"It's been a storybook season so far," he added. "It's been one highlight after another. And, man, I'm savoring each and every one of them because you never know when the last one is going to come. To have revered this ballpark and this organization the way I did as a kid, and to leave it here tonight like this, it's awfully special. I'll remember that inning and that hit and that last play of the game for a long time."
Dodgers closer Javy Guerra (1-3) gave up five consecutive one-out hits in the ninth. The second one was a liner by Brian McCann that ricocheted off his face, but manager Don Mattingly kept the right-hander in there and he surrendered RBI singles to Uggla, Jones and Jason Heyward.
"The stage was set for me by the rest of the guys to come in and get five straight hits off a guy with that kind of stuff," Jones said. "I've never faced him before, and when he threw me that first pitch, I was like: `Oh boy, I've got my hands full here.' But he made a mistake to a couple of guys in that inning, and we didn't miss them."
Guerra lost for the third time in his last five appearances and had to undergo concussion tests after the game, which showed no signs of one.
"That just shows you how tough he is and how much he wants to be out there and compete. And you want a guy like that on your team," Dodgers first baseman James Loney said. "He has the mentality of a closer. You just shake off the last bad day and come out ready for the next one."
Incredibly, the crowd booed him when he returned to the dugout after being relieved by Josh Lindblom.
"These are not our fans, but I was a little disappointed that they booed him," Braves manager Freddy Garcia said. "This guy took one in the face and he tried to stay in there and save the game - and they booed him coming off the field. But you've got to give the guy some credit for some courage there."
Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly outdueled Brandon Beachy through seven innings in a matchup of pitchers who came in with sub-1.00 ERAs and Matt Kemp tied a Dodgers franchise record for April with his 10th home run.
Lilly threw just 79 pitches, allowing a run and three hits. The two-time All-Star, who spent the first two weeks of the season on the disabled list because of a neck strain, was trying to win his first three starts of a season for the first time in his 15-year career. He lowered his ERA to 0.90.
Beachy allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, raising his ERA from 0.47 to 1.05. The 25-year-old right-hander returned to the site of his first major league victory on April 19, 2011, when he yielded just two hits over six scoreless innings in a 10-1 win.
"What a game that was," McCann said. "The way Beachy pitched was amazing, and then our bullpen came in and did what they do every time they take the mound. We've got as good a late-inning bullpen as you're going to find. We came through in the ninth with some big ABs, and that's what you've got to do to beat good teams like this."
The score was tied 1-all in the sixth when a brief but steady rain began to fall as Kemp got into the batter's box to lead off the inning. He then drove a 2-2 pitch from Beachy deep into the left-field pavilion for his 10th home run, matching the franchise record for April that Gary Sheffield set in 2000 - and with four games to spare. It was the first homer allowed by Beachy in four starts this year.
NOTES: When White Sox 1B Paul Konerko hit his 400th career home run on Wednesday, he became the third player who began his career with the Dodgers and reached that milestone with another club. The others were Duke Snider (Mets) and Mike Piazza (Padres). ... Tuesday marked the 36th anniversary of the day that Rick Monday of the Chicago Cubs swiped an American flag away from two protesters who were about to set it on fire in the outfield at Dodger Stadium during a game. Monday spent the next eight seasons playing for the Dodgers, and is now in his 19th year as a broadcaster with the team. ... Jones hit .241 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs in 60 regular-season games at Dodger Stadium. In two postseason games in 1996, he was 0 for 6 with three strikeouts. ... Lilly, who allowed an average of 27 home runs over the previous nine seasons, has not given up one to any of the last 245 batters he's faced during a span of 62 1-3 innings. The last one hit off him was by Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 26, 2011 at Dodger Stadium.
Updated April 26, 2012