08/16/2002 03:38 am ET
Atlanta happy to escape with tie
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones was one of the few Braves players remaining in the clubhouse after the Braves had been forced to wait 2:33 before the game was called in Thursday night's series finale against the Giants at Turner Field.
It was only fitting that Jones be one of the few remaining souls in the desolate clubhouse after the game was called at 1:25 a.m. ET. He was the reason the game had extended into extra frames.
Facing a two-run deficit with two outs and two strikes on him in the ninth, Jones delivered a single off Giants closer Robb Nen that scored Rafael Furcal and Gary Sheffield to tie the game at 3.
"It was do or die," Jones said. "It was me or him. I got a slider that I could put my bat on."
It was Nen's fourth blown save in his last five opportunities. But Furcal and Sheffield might not have been in position to score if the Giants had attempted to throw them out during a double steal that resulted in a defensive indifference when no effort was made to make a throw.
"Once they got into scoring position, I knew that all I had to do was get a base hit," Jones said. "It made my job easier."
Statistically, it looked like Jones had good numbers against Nen. Coming into the game, he had five hits in 11 career at-bats. But Jones said the numbers were a little misleading.
"I think I was like 5-for-my-first-6 against him," Jones said. "You don't see closers a lot. I don't think I've gotten a hit off him in the last four years."
Jones' heroics gave the Braves their first tie since May 28, 1989, in St. Louis and the first one in Atlanta since May 10, 1981, against the Cubs. The last time a Giants game ended in a tie was Sept. 2, 1968, when a 1-1 contest in Chicago was called after nine innings.
When play was halted in the 10th inning, the Giants had a runner on first and one out. A steady rain that began in the eighth inning turned into a downpour at that point, and crew chief Ed Montague called the players off the field.
If the Giants, who are in the midst of a tight chase for the Wild Card position, need to play the game because of playoff implications, it will be played at a date to be determined in Atlanta. The most likely date would be Sept. 30, one day after the regular season concludes.
"That would really stink," Jones said. "It likely won't mean anything to us. I'm sure they don't want to fly all the way back out here."
All things considered, the Braves felt rather fortunate to escape with the tie.
"Considering we were down two runs most of the game, it's a good night," Damian Moss said.
Moss, who was making his second start of the season against the Giants, allowed three earned runs on four hits in eight innings. It matched his longest career outing, which had been established Aug. 4 against the Cardinals.
"It wasn't that bad," Moss said. "I made pitches when I had to. I've had better nights."
Moss' evening would have been a lot better had he not grooved a fastball to Jeff Kent in the first inning.
"I was trying to come inside," Moss said. "I just left it out over the plate. He did what he was supposed to do with it."
Kent, who finished the three-game series with four homers, deposited the delivery into the left-field seats to give the Giants an early two-run advantage.
The other run Moss would allow came in the third when he uncorked a wild pitch on strike three to Rich Aurilia. When the ball got behind catcher Steve Torrealba, Aurilia reached safely, and David Bell, who opened the inning with a double, raced to third to put himself in position to score on a Barry Bonds sacrifice fly.
Moss, who has limited opponents to a National League-low .197 batting average, hasn't lost in his last six starts.
Both Jones and Moss were hustling to get out of the clubhouse when Thursday's game was officially called. Many of their other teammates had already showered and left as soon as the announcement was made.
Jones, who has to catch a flight at 10 a.m. Friday morning to attend his mother-in-law's funeral in Florida, summed up the long, strange night best.
"It's the first tie game I've ever played," Jones said with a smile.
By the end of the evening there were a lot more red eyes than smiles.
Mark Bowman covers the Braves for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.