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Chipper singles in go-ahead run in the ninth

LOS ANGELES -- Staring at a tough loss that would have put a damper on the cross-country flight back to Atlanta, the Braves staged a ninth-inning comeback that provided a second straight last at-bat victory and a fitting conclusion to an impressive road trip.

Courtesy of a three-run ninth inning that produced both concern and celebration at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, the Braves completely altered the mood they would have carried back home. Five consecutive one-out hits off Dodgers closer Javy Guerra led to a 4-2 win that nearly left a sentimental Chipper Jones speechless.

"I was like a schoolkid out there," Jones said. "That's what you play the game for. It's moments like that. You don't know how many times I've rehearsed that very moment in my backyard, only I was a Dodger. It's indescribable."

The proud son of a Vero Beach, Fla., resident who began bleeding Dodger Blue during his own childhood, Jones added to the memories of his final season. In what was his final regular-season at-bat at Dodger Stadium, the 40-year-old third baseman delivered the decisive RBI single through the right side of the infield and then fielded a two-out grounder before throwing out the speedy Dee Gordon to end the game.

As the Braves boarded the bus nearly an hour after the game, a group of Braves fans could be heard loudly chanting, "Chipper, Chipper."

"I'll remember that hit for a long time," Jones said. "I'll remember that inning. I'll remember the last play of the game. It's just storybook. That's the only way I can describe it."

Fortunately, the inning did not turn tragic after Brian McCann lined a single that deflected off Guerra's jaw to put runners at first and second with one out. After being checked by the medical staff, the young closer remained in the game and drew the respect of many within the Braves' clubhouse.

"I told a couple guys he's my new favorite player," McCann said. "It didn't even faze him. I hit it as hard as I possibly could and I don't think it hit any glove. For him to get up and pitch, I don't think too many guys would want to mess with him."

Any pain Guerra was feeling was mixed with frustration when Dan Uggla followed McCann's single by reaching across the plate to direct a 1-2 fastball to shallow right field for a game-tying single. Jones followed by hitting an 0-2 fastball through the right side of the infield. The decisive single set the stage for Craig Kimbrel to notch his seventh save with a perfect ninth.

Guerra said the line drive off his face did not compromise him during the remainder of the ninth inning.

"I've got to get the ball down," said Guerra. "If I don't leave it up, it doesn't come back at me. In that situation, we have a chance to win two games and I let the team down two nights in a row."

Martin Prado's two-out ninth-inning triple off Guerra on Tuesday night had extended the success the Braves experienced while winning five times during this seven-game trip that started with four games against the D-backs.

"We'll probably get [to Atlanta] at six or seven in the morning, but it won't feel that way," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We may get there before the plane does. It's a pretty good road trip."

As his teammates enjoyed the thrilling victory, a smiling Brandon Beachy stood beside his locker and said, "That's fun baseball."

Beachy had allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings and was in line for a tough-luck loss before the Braves mounted their comeback.

Beachy entered the game with a Major League-best 0.47 ERA and spent the first four innings lowering that mark. His fortunes changed after he allowed consecutive singles to begin the bottom of the fifth.

This set the stage for Gordon to produce a game-tying RBI groundout that accounted for the first earned run Beachy had allowed in a span of 19 2/3 innings, dating back to the fourth inning of his 2012 debut on April 9.

With the rain falling harder than it did at any point during the evening, Beachy made a mistake with a 2-2 changeup that Matt Kemp hit deep beyond the left-center-field wall to begin the bottom of the sixth inning. The solo shot was the first home run the Braves hurler had allowed in a span of 43 2/3 innings, dating back to a Sept. 7 start in Philadelphia.

After Beachy exited with one on and out out in the seventh, Chad Durbin and Eric O'Flaherty combined to escape that inning without any further damage. Jonny Venters then recorded three strikeouts in a perfect eighth inning that was followed by the mood-changing ninth.

"We've got as good of a late-inning bullpen as you're going to find," McCann said. "We came through late with some good [at-bats]. That's what you've got to do to beat good teams like this. You've got to hang close and then have a big inning, and ours was in the ninth tonight." Comments