Somebody forgot to tell Chipper Jones he doesn’t need any more “Final Votes.” He’s already made the All-Star team.
Just hours after being named as Matt Kemp’s replacement on the National League roster, Jones went 5-for-5 to match his career-high and lead the Braves past the Chicago Cubs in a 10-3 thrashing Tuesday night.
Or maybe Jones was just campaigning to start the thing.
“Tonight was just one of those dream games,” said Jones, 40, who can add it to the list of big moments in his final tour around the majors this season. “I’d be hard-pressed to find another game where I played better.”
Jones doubled twice, drove in four runs and stole his first base of the year to reach 150 for his career. He completed his night with a highlight defensive play up the line at third base.
Jones had five hits for the third time in career and first time ever at home. He went 5-for-5 in Houston on Aug. 11, 2002 and 5-for-5 in Arizona on April 27, 2001.
“It’s happened to me three times in 19 years, so they’re pretty special when they come along,” said Jones, who is hitting .455 (15-for-33) in his past 10 games. “I just feel fortunate that I’m swinging the bat really good right now when the team needs it.”
Jones singled in his first at-bat to extend his season-high hitting streak to 10 games, becoming only the second player in franchise history to do that past the age of 40. (He joined Rabbit Maranville of the 1933 Boston Braves who did it at 41.) And he didn’t stop until he was racking up milestones like he had been votes to get to his eighth All-Star game in Kansas City.
A single and two more doubles moved Jones past Max Carey into seventh place on the all-time hit-list for switch-hitters with 2,665. And his four RBIs gave him 1,594 for his career. Jones needs three more RBIs between now and Sunday to go to Kansas City with George Brett’s RBI record among those who played primarily third base in his back pocket.
After Jones singled to right in the eighth inning, manager Fredi Gonzalez took him out to a standing ovation from 27,834 fans at Turner Field. Then they drew him back out of the dugout for a curtain call and a tip of the cap.
“Every time something cool happens I cherish it because it could be the last time,” Jones said. “That more than likely is my last five-hit game. I’m glad that it happened here at home.”
Jones’ bases-clearing double in the sixth helped the Braves capitalize on a six-walk inning by the Cubs bullpen. It mimicked what Michael Bourn had done an inning earlier. Bourn cleared the bases with a triple down the first base line to start a five-run fifth.
His first-pitch swing with the bases loaded turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead which the Braves built on with Martin Prado’s sacrifice fly and a Jason Heyward homer.
Before Bourn’s triple, Jair Jurrjens was losing out in a duel with Chris Volstad, another struggling sinkerballer just back from Triple-A. Gonzalez decided to pinch hit for Jurrjens with runners first and second in the fifth and nobody out, rather than bunt him, and the move changed the complexion of the game.
Pinch-hitter Eric Hinske drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Bourn, who ripped a line drive just inside the right field line for a triple. Volstad’s night ended shortly thereafter after Heyward took him to the opposite field for his 13th home run of the year.
“The way the game was progressing at the time, you felt like trying to get another inning through JJ might have been a little difficult,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve got first and second there with nobody out, try to take a shot with it.”
Volstad fell to 0-12 in 20 starts since last July 17 when he was with the Marlins. He joined former Brave Jo-Jo Reyes as only the second pitcher in the past 10 years with winless streaks of 20 or more starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The former Brave Reyes was winless in 28 starts between 2008-2011.
Jurrjens won for the second time in three starts since returning from the minor leagues. He pitched only five innings, giving up nine hits, but allowed only three unearned runs.
Second baseman Dan Uggla threw a double play ball into left field that would have ended the third inning, and Jurrjens didn’t help himself with a late throw to second base which prolonged it too. Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger followed with a pair of two-out run-scoring singles.
“We didn’t play particularly well that third inning behind him and probably taxed him a little bit,” Gonzalez said.