Chipper Jones has no intention of going out with a whimper.
Atlanta’s future Hall of Fame third baseman launched a three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as the Braves edged the Phillies 8-7 on Sunday.
The Braves trailed 7-3 entering the bottom of the ninth before getting two on against Jeremy Horst. Papelbon came on with one out for what looked like a pretty easy save chance, but after striking out Lyle Overbay on a pitch that looked outside, he walked Michael Bourn to load the bases. Martin Prado then hit a chopper down the line that Kevin Frandsen couldn’t decide to how to play. It ended up getting past him for a two-run double, allowing Chipper to come up and end the Braves’ three-game losing streak with a bomb to right center.
It was Chipper’s ninth career walkoff homer. He also had one against the Phillies back on May 2 in an 11-inning game. Before that, he hadn’t had one since 2006. It’s the second time he’s had a walkoff homer with the Braves trailing, as opposed to being a tie game.
Papelbon blew his fourth save in 35 opportunities. He’s given up six homers this year after allowing just three in his final season with Boston.
Jones, who reiterated after the game that he still intends to retire at season’s end, is hitting .302 with 14 homers and 58 RBI.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.