Cardinals beat Braves 6-3 in disputed playoff
ATLANTA — David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals rediscovered their postseason touch. Chipper Jones and the Braves kept throwing the ball away. And the Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a trash heap.
They said anything could happen in baseball’s first wild-card playoff.
Boy, did it ever.
In a game protested by the Braves, Matt Holliday homered and the defending World Series champion Cardinals took advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors — the most crucial of them by the retiring Jones — to take the winner-take-all playoff 6-3 on Friday.
MLB executive Joe Torre said
MLB executive Joe Torre said the protest had been denied. St. Louis advanced to face Washington in the best-of-five division round, beginning Sunday at Busch Stadium.
The Braves are done for this season, the recipients of another heartbreaking loss in the playoffs.
The 40-year-old Jones is all done, period. He managed an infield hit in his final at-bat but threw away a double play ball in the fourth, which led to a three-run inning that wiped out Atlanta’s early 2-0 lead behind Kris Medlen.
“Ultimately I think that when we look back on this loss, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror,” Jones said. “We put ourselves in that predicament, down 6-2. You know, that call right there is kind of a gray area. I don’t know. But I’m not willing to say that that particular call cost us the ballgame. Ultimately, three errors cost us the ballgame, mine probably being the biggest.”
Jones leaves with just one World Series title, in 1995.
“Today my heart is broken,” he said. “Not for me, my heart is broken for my teammates and my coaching staff, and all these fans that have been so great to us this year.”
This one-and-done game will be remembered for the eighth, when a disputed call on a fly ball that dropped in short left field cost the Braves a chance at extending Jones’ career.
The Braves thought they had the bases loaded with one out after the ball dropped between two fielders, who appeared to get mixed up over who had called for it. But left-field umpire Sam Holbrook called Andrelton Simmons out under the infield fly rule — even though the ball landed at least 50 feet beyond the dirt.
When the fans realized what had happened, they littered the field with beers cups, popcorn holders and other trash, leading to a 19-minute delay as the Cardinals retreated to their dugout.
The stoppage only delayed the inevitable. When play finally resumed, pinch-hitter Brian McCann walked, but Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat.
Dan Uggla grounded out with two aboard in the ninth to end it, leading to one more wave of trash throwing as the umps scurried off the field.
David Ross, starting in place of the slumping, ailing McCann, had the place rocking in the second inning when he launched a two-run homer into the left-field seats off 16-game winner Kyle Lohse.
The Braves haven’t won a playoff round since 2001. Since then, they’ve gone 0 for 7, including six decisive losses at Turner Field.