Published August 29, 2012
SAN DIEGO – Chipper Jones got a warm send-off from San Diego, the city in which he made his big league debut for the Atlanta Braves in 1993.
The retiring star third baseman received a nice ovation when he came to the plate leading off the second inning Wednesday. He stepped out of the box and tipped his batting helmet to the crowd.
When he came up for the final time at Petco Park, he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 16,845. Again, he backed out and tipped his helmet, and then singled to center.
"Obviously, a nice gesture by the fans a couple of times today," Jones said after the Braves lost to the Padres 8-2. "It was nice to get a hit in my last at-bat. I've always enjoyed coming here to San Diego. It's been one of my favorite places to come."
Jones is calling it quits at the end of this year. He made his debut for the Braves on Sept. 11, 1993, against the Padres, who played at Qualcomm Stadium back then.
He didn't leave town with a win, though. Playing in front of their new owners, Chase Headley and the Padres won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Headley hit a two-run single and left-hander Eric Stults won his fourth straight decision as San Diego took two of three from the Braves, who lead the NL wild-card race.
The third generation of the O'Malley family was introduced at a news conference earlier Wednesday, promising to run the Padres in the same first-class manner that Walter and Peter O'Malley once ran the Dodgers. The new ownership group includes Peter O'Malley's sons, Kevin and Brian, and nephews Peter and Tom Seidler. It also includes San Diego businessman Ron Fowler, the executive chairman who has been designated as the team's control person. The group bought the Padres for $800 million from John Moores.
The new owners had to have liked what they saw.
Headley's two-run single to right in the fifth inning off Tommy Hanson gave the Padres a 4-1 lead. Everth Cabrera reached second when his popup went over the head of a retreating Jones as shortstop Paul Janish came in behind him. Will Venable bunted for a single and stole second, and both scored on Headley's single.
That gave Headley 30 RBIs in August, making him the eighth Padres player to get that many in a month. The last San Diego player with 30-plus RBIs in a month was Ryan Klesko in May 2001, when he set a team record with 40.
"I was drifting and Paul called it at the last second and I was at the point of no return," Jones said of his error. "I was just trying to jump up and get it. We made contact. I heard him. But how many times do you see someone call it at the last second and both guys shy away? I wasn't going to let that happen. It was one of those unfortunate 'tweeners that didn't go our way.
"It's a frustrating end to the road trip," he added. "That play looks bad and to compound it, they don't field the bunt. All of a sudden, a one-run lead is a three-run lead."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called the error "a little miscommunication. But the bunt popup in the infield, we have to get an out there. But we didn't field the ball and they score two."
San Diego also scored two runs in the fourth. Yasmani Grandal drew a leadoff walk and Mark Kotsay hit a one-out single to right. Logan Forsythe doubled to left to bring in Grandal, and Cameron Maybin followed with a sacrifice fly.
The Padres added on in the eighth with a two-run single by pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia and RBI singles by Grandal and Yonder Alonso.
Atlanta scored an unearned run in the fifth. Michael Bourn's sacrifice fly brought in Dan Uggla, who singled and advanced to third on second baseman Forsythe's throwing error. David Ross homered leading off the ninth, his seventh.
Stults (4-2) allowed an unearned run on five hits in six innings, struck out five and walked two.
Hanson (12-7) gave up four runs, three earned, on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.
NOTES: Both teams are off Thursday. The Braves return home to open a series against Philadelphia on Friday, when Mike Minor (7-10, 4.71 ERA) is scheduled to start opposite Roy Halladay (8-7, 3.88). The Padres head to Colorado.