Chipper escapes ejection, wins game
Jones belts game-winning double after Wickman's blown save
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones didn't manage a ball out of the infield during his first four at-bats Tuesday, but he made his mark by instigating an argument that saw Braves manager Bobby Cox get ejected for the 132nd time in his managerial career.That one will go down in the history books. Tuesday, Jones will be remembered not for his first four at-bats or even for an impressive bat toss after he was called out on strikes in the fifth. The record will show that Jones had a game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Braves a 5-4 victory over the Giants at Turner Field. The win allowed Atlanta to keep pace in the National League East. New York and Philadelphia, both ahead of the Braves in the standings, also won Tuesday. "It's a situation where you've got to realize it might come back around to you -- you might get another shot," Jones said. "I got ahead in the count ... and they certainly don't want to face [Mark Teixeira] coming up behind me with the bases loaded. It was a good end to a pretty poor night." Jones reached on an error and grounded out before coming up in a potential game-changing situation in the fifth against San Francisco reliever Jack Taschner, who was called on to get the Giants out of a jam with one out and runners on second and third. After Taschner struck out Kelly Johnson, Jones took a called third strike on a pitch he believed to be inside. He flipped his bat high into the air and spun his helmet to the ground, managing to stay in the game despite his best efforts to get tossed. Cox wasn't as lucky. He was ejected by home-plate umpire Ted Barrett while in the dugout for coming to Jones' defense. The ejection put Cox ahead of former New York Giants manager John McGraw for first on the all-time list. McGraw was ejected 14 times as a player, but all of Cox's have come while managing. "[Barrett] and I didn't see eye-to-eye on the strike zone, and Bobby knows that if I'm that upset, it's a ball," Jones said. Cox's ejection gave the Braves a lift. With Atlanta trailing, 3-0, Teixeira led off the bottom of the sixth against Taschner with a home run to center, Teixeira's fifth as a Brave in 12 games. Scott Atchison also was unable to keep the Braves at bay. A single by Brian McCann and Andruw Jones' walk set up a two-run double by Yunel Escobar, one of the rookie's four hits on the night. Matt Diaz followed with a first-pitch single to right field that scored Escobar and gave the Braves the lead. "[The coaching staff] does an unbelievable job of giving you what can happen in different situations," Diaz said. "They let me know that if there was a runner on second in that inning, at any time, and the pitcher's spot came up, I was pinch-hitting there." Atlanta didn't keep the lead, despite handing it in the ninth inning to closer Bob Wickman, who hadn't blown a save at Turner Field this year. Wickman allowed a one-out triple to pinch-hitter Daniel Ortmeier, then an infield single to Dave Roberts. With the infield playing in, Escobar saved the tying run with a diving stop at shortstop that forced Roberts to stay at third. After an intentional walk to Ray Durham that loaded the bases, San Francisco tied it on Randy Winn's groundout. "I thought I had good stuff tonight," Wickman said. "It was one of those nights where it didn't work for me." Wickman limited the damage, however. Another walk loaded the bases, but he struck out Ryan Klesko looking to end the inning and set up Chipper Jones' heroics. Klesko argued the call, and Barrett's strike zone was a point of contention for both teams most of the night. Wickman figured it out, though, and got Klesko on three called strikes. "Wickman's as solid a closer as it comes," Diaz said. "We thought we had it wrapped up, but when they tied it up and he shut them down with the bases loaded, that was huge. Him getting us back in the dugout tied was huge. He girded up his loins and pitched unbelievably there." The matchup of starting pitchers surprisingly went in San Francisco's favor. Kevin Correia, making his first start since 2005, held the Braves without a run before exiting with two runners on in the fifth. Correia had made 99 relief appearances since his last start, but acclimated himself well to the rotation and recorded the first scoreless start of 20 in his career. John Smoltz, meanwhile, allowed three runs, all after walks to Barry Bonds. He never pitched with the lead but was in line for the win after Diaz's go-ahead single in the sixth. Smoltz allowed three doubles, the biggest a two-out gapper by Klesko that made it 3-0 in the third. Smoltz labored through the third and fourth innings, throwing 51 pitches, but was otherwise sharp and allowed just two other hits, both singles. "Smoltzie found it about the fourth inning," Cox said. "He didn't warm up particularly good today with his control for the first time all year, and it showed a little bit. He'd get guys with two strikes and couldn't make a good pitch that he wanted to. He struggled a little bit, but he came through really good." Jones' hit came after Willie Harris reached on a walk and Kelly Johnson made it to first on a sacrifice bunt that turned into an error on pitcher Steve Kline. This time, instead of waiting to get called out on a pitch not to his liking, Jones served an outside pitch into the left-center-field gap. "This certainly on paper looked like a game we should win, with John Smoltz throwing and them kind of doing a bullpen by committee," Jones said. "We got a little more than we bargained for, but it's still big."
Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.