ATLANTA — Every morning that Chipper Jones rises from bed, his 40-year-old, surgically repaired body tells him it's time to retire.
But the Atlanta Braves' boxscores keep arguing that the third baseman is better than ever.
In a game that may have been far more important to the Braves emotionally than in the NL East standings, Jones' RBI single in the bottom of the third inning gave the home team a lead it would never relinquish in topping the division-leading Washington Nationals 5-1 Sunday night.
"We're kind of showing signs of some offense," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "This team continues to have great resilency."
Even a cool and steady rain over the final five innings couldn't dampen the spirits of 29,094 Braves fans as they watched their team sweep the Nats in a series for the first time since 2009 and pulling within 5.5 games of them in the East.
Moreover, after losing six of their first eight to the NL's winningest team at the moment, the Braves conclude their 18 regular-season games against the Nats having won six of the final 10 between the two.
To bring even more importance to that, should Atlanta hold onto the top wildcard spot, then beat the No. 2 wildcard team in a one-game playoff, the Braves could possibly host the Nats for the first two games of a best-of-five division series that would begin on Sunday, Oct. 7.
If Atlanta plays as well in the postseason as it did in this one, it just might reach its first World Series since 1999.
It began with Jones driving in the first run of the night, followed by another RBI from Freddie Freeman.
It became a certain win when the offense rewarded Rhea County product Cory Gearrin for retiring the side in the seventh by scoring three more times in the bottom of the inning, including Jones crossing the plate for the final run.
"The Nationals have been a big hump for us to get over all season," said Jones. "For at least one three-game series, we cleared it."
The victory denied Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez his 20th win of the season (19-8), made Mike Minor a winner (9-10) and moved the Braves 21 games over .500 (84-63) for the third time this season. They haven't been 22 games over .500 since September of last season.
Atlanta begins a six-game road trip tonight at Miami.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...