Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 5/3/12
There couldn't have been another ending to this one. No way. Fate just wouldn't allow it. This was the kind of conclusion where a 40-year-old man in his baseball swansong could be so filled with emotion that he would yank the batting helmet off his graying head and spike it on the infield grass. It was the kind of game to fill him with so much glee that he would stomp on home plate like a little leaguer and bounce up and down in an impromptu flash mob with teammates nearly half his age. Chipper Jones had to end the Braves' 15-13 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night. He had to extend his long arms and watch the ball leave the park and circle the bases and trot to home plate. Forget Roy Hobbs. This was real life. Jones has already provided a season's worth of dramatic and memorable home runs for the Braves: There was the one in Houston, in his first game off the disabled list. There was the one in his Turner Field debut, after sitting out the first two games of the home-opening series against Milwaukee. There was the one that put the icing on his 40th birthday cake. And then there he was again on Wednesday, in the spotlight, determined not to strike out, not to fail. The Braves had battled back twice once from six runs down against Roy Halladay, baseball's dominant right-hander, a guy with two Cy Young awards on a shelf and he would not foil this chance to end it. So, two pitches after Jones hit a ball that curved just foul down the right-field line, he smashed a pitch to right-center, easily clearing the wall and adding another layer of lore to his already fabled career. What does Jones mean to the Braves? They are 11-2 with him in the lineup, 4-8 when he's not. "What a cool moment that was, not only for Chipper, but for the rest of us to be able to watch that, to enjoy that, to see him walk down the first base line like that," Brian McCann said. "That's a treat for all of us. That's what he's done in his career and what he's done for this organization, this city. He's going out this year, and that was one of the coolest moments I've had on a baseball field." Even moments like the one he experienced can't persuade Jones from changing his mind and deciding to return for another season or two. Sitting in front of his locker, with infield gravel stuck to his neck, leftover debris from the postgame celebration, Jones talked mainly about what the win did for the Braves, not his 458th home run in the majors, which coincidentally was the 500th of his professional career, including his time in the minors. He was mainly proud of the fact that the Braves fought back from a 6-0 deficit to Halladay, knocking him out with two more runs in the fifth. And he was proud that the game didn't stretch into 12 innings. "Nights like this make me want to go to bed," Jones said. "I'm just glad it's over because I'm tired. I'm spent." Even before Jones' home run concluded the scoring and the game, it had been filled with big hits, comebacks and un-Halladay-like stats that were a testament to the oddity of this night. There were 36 hits, 19 by the Braves. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz had a career-high seven RBIs, six in consecutive at-bats. Halladay allowed eight runs for the first time since 2007 and had not allowed a home run since Sept. 19, 2011. That home run, a grand slam from McCann, was the eighth of his career and the first one allowed by Halladay since 2008. The Phillies led by six, but the Braves tied it at 6-all before moving ahead at 8-6 in the sixth, chasing Halladay. Philadelphia scored three more in each the seventh and eighth for a 12-8 lead, but the Braves added five in the eighth for 13-12 advantage with closer Craig Kimbrel coming in for the save. He gave up the tying run, setting up extra innings. "It was a weird game, all the way around," McCann said. "Stuff you never see, (they) happened tonight. I've never been a part of a game quite like this before. Tonight was something you don't see." The Braves had lost eight straight games to the Phillies, a streak that started last July, the day before the All-Star break and continued through six September losses and then into Tuesday. But Dan Uggla singled to lead off the 12th, bringing up Jones. "I still feel like I have the skills to be able to play this game, and play it well," he said. "Unfortunately, at 40, my body doesn't allow me to, sometimes. When I am in there, I want to make a splash. I think I did it tonight."
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