ATLANTA — Chipper Jones rounded third base, took one look at his grinning teammates surrounding home plate and flung his batting helmet into the air before jumping into the welcoming party.
The moment Jones said he’ll savor in retirement came after a dramatic homer that can help his chances of one more postseason.
Jones hit a three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the ninth inning, capping a five-run rally that sent the Atlanta Braves over the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 on Sunday.
The switch-hitting Jones was swinging as a left-handed hitter when he saw three straight fastballs from Papelbon. Jones pulled the third pitch deep into the right-field seats.
Then came the celebration every player cherishes — none more than the 40-year-old Jones, who is retiring after the season.
“In that mob scene at the plate, you kind of get lost in it, time kind of stands still,” Jones said. “You’re not really thinking about any of that other stuff. You’re just thrilled that you won a game.
“Nothing beats that. That’s as good as it gets.”
Jones has two game-ending homers this season, both against the Phillies. On May 2 in Atlanta, his 11th-inning, two-run shot gave the Braves a 15-13 win.
This win was more important, because the Braves appeared bound for their fourth straight loss. There was growing talk the team could stage of repeat of its collapse in September of 2011 when it blew a wild-card lead. The 2011 collapse ended with three straight home losses to the Phillies.
Talk of another September failure would have grown if the Braves had been swept. Instead, they boosted their status as the NL wild-card leader.
“This is something I think we need right here,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “This is something to get the team going again and get the juices flowing again.
“He came through again. ... It’s unbelievable.”
The Phillies led 7-1 after three innings and carried a four-run advantage into the ninth.
The Braves rallied against Jeremy Horst and Papelbon (3-6).
“It was sitting right there for us,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “We couldn’t finish it off. It was set up perfect for us. We didn’t get it done.”
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