Chipper's yard work helps Braves rout Mets
Forget all that retirement talk. Chipper Jones is starting to swing the bat again.
Jones homered and drove in four runs to power the Atlanta Braves to an 11-3 victory over the New York Mets on Monday night.
"The hitting just exploded tonight," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Long balls good to see once in a while when there's a couple guys on base."
Worn down by injuries, Jones has talked openly about calling it quits if he struggles again next season. But the switch-hitter has shown some signs of life in his last six games, batting .350 (7 for 20) to help the Braves keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
"It's coming," Jones said. "Right-handed, I feel a lot better. Left-handed is still, as you saw in the last couple at-bats, it's just not there yet. But it's good to contribute the last couple days. Almost makes the game fun again."
Garret Anderson and Matt Diaz also connected for the Braves, who have won nine of 11. They moved within five games of idle Colorado for the NL wild-card lead with 12 games left.
"Mathematically, we're still in it, even though it's going to be tough," right-hander Derek Lowe said. "But as long as we keep winning, put the pressure on everybody else, that's all you can do."
Atlanta opened a six-game trip with its most runs since it set a season high in a 15-2 win at New York on Aug. 19. Martin Prado had three hits, Nate McLouth scored three times and Lowe (15-9) pitched five innings to help the Braves improve to 11-5 against the Mets this season.
Daniel Murphy homered and Luis Castillo had two hits for New York, which has lost seven of nine. Castillo was replaced by Anderson Hernandez with Atlanta leading 11-1 in the fourth and All-Star third baseman David Wright was taken out in the sixth.
Murphy, who doubled and scored in the second, is batting .358 (19 for 53) with three homers and 12 RBIs in his last 14 games.
"I like the way Daniel Murphy is swinging the bat," said manager Jerry Manuel, searching for something positive in New York's latest loss. "He's really coming on."
Atlanta jumped all over Pat Misch (1-4), scoring four times in each of the first two innings. Anderson capped the scoring in the first with a two-run drive into the second deck in right and Diaz started the second with a liner into the seats in left-center.
"I really threw bad pitches," Misch said. "Just elevated, too much plate. The last two starts I haven't pitched down low."
Jones drove in the Braves' first run with a groundout and chased Misch with a towering three-run drive to left in the second for his 17th homer and first since Aug. 29, at Philadelphia.
The 37-year-old third baseman has a .324 batting average, 42 homers and 133 RBIs in 203 games against New York. It was his first homer at Citi Field after hitting 19 at Shea Stadium, his most at any opponent's ballpark.
"He's starting to come around a little bit and he's starting to feel good," Cox said.
Lowe allowed three runs and six hits, and helped himself at the plate with his sixth career two-hit game. Kenshin Kawakami pitched four innings of one-hit ball for his first career save.
Lowe left his previous start Wednesday against the Mets after two innings because of a blister on his right ring finger. He developed a cut on his right thumb Monday night but said he should be fine for his next start.
"It's always something with me," he said with a grin.
The right-hander reached the 15-win mark for the fourth time in his career and first since he went 16-8 for the Dodgers in 2006.
Jones on his retirement talk causing a bit of a stir among Mets fans: "They still got one more year of coming out and ragging on me. So New Yorkers can rest assured that they'll have me in an Atlanta Braves uniform for at least one more year." ... Anderson Hernandez hit New York's 46th triple of the season in the fifth inning, one shy of the franchise record set in 1978 and equaled in 1996. ... Atlanta's last four-inning save was recorded by Mark Grant on Oct. 2, 1990, in a 16-7 victory at San Francisco. ... Misch's four-out start was the shortest of his career. His previous low was four innings. ... Manuel wouldn't commit to keeping Misch in the rotation.