Mets fall to Braves, 3-2, in Chipper Jones' last game at Citi

New York Mets catcher Josh Thole, second from

New York Mets catcher Josh Thole, second from left, watches Atlanta Brave's Brian McCann, right, hit a solo home run off Mets' Chris Young in the sixth inning. (Sept. 9, 2012) (Credit: AP)

For years, these were the moments that conditioned Mets fans to despise Chipper Jones.

In his last game in Flushing, the Braves star stepped to the plate with the outcome still in doubt, given one final chance to ruin one more afternoon for those who loved to hate him.

Out of respect, half of them rose to their feet. Out of principle, half of them booed. Out of habit, all of them held their breath.

But Jones' farewell was destined to be understated.

As the Braves took a 3-2 win in 10 innings Sunday, the retiring Mets-killer played only a ceremonial role, drawing a pinch-hit walk with the score tied in the ninth. Immediately lifted for a pinch runner, he jogged off the field to a warm ovation, doffing his batting helmet before disappearing into the Citi Field dugout for the last time in his Hall of Fame career.

"He killed us so much on the field," David Wright said. "But off the field, he's been all class."

Jones already had received his farewell salute by the time Mets reliever Bobby Parnell allowed Brian McCann's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the 10th. A failed Mets rally in the bottom of the inning ensured that Jones would walk out of Flushing a winner.

A cranky knee kept Jones out of the starting lineup, but manager Fredi Gonzalez tasked him with exchanging the lineup cards at home plate. He posed for pictures alongside the umpires and Mets manager Terry Collins, who called Jones "one of the great pros" of the game.

Then, with the Braves in need of one more great swing, Gonzalez summoned Jones in the ninth.

"I didn't pitch around him," Mets closer Frank Francisco said. "But I didn't want to leave anything right there."

His caution proved warranted. Even with the count at 3-and-0, Francisco noticed that Jones flinched, an indication he was prepared to swing at a fastball. Instead, Francisco threw a splitter. Jones laid off.

And just like that, it was over. After 19 years of torment, the greatest Mets-killer of all time was gone for good. But when given their first Chipper-free moment in nearly two decades, the fans used it to cheer on the man who made it so much fun to boo.

Said Wright: "Well deserved."

Notes & quotes: Matt Harvey's final start will be at Citi Field on Sept. 18 against the Phillies, one day earlier than originally planned. With the Mets in audition mode for pitchers, Collins said moving up Harvey made it easier to get more looks at some of the arms on his roster. The righthander's next start comes Wednesday against the Nationals . . . Until prospect Jenrry Mejia starts Sept. 19, Collins plans to use him in a few multi-inning relief stints. "If we can get him a couple of innings, I think it keeps him sharper as we get near the chance for him to start," Collins said. "I want to make sure he stays good and strong. I think one inning at a time is not going to do it." . . . Lefty reliever Josh Edgin threw 11/3 shutout innings, extending his streak without an earned run to nine innings in his last 12 appearances . . . Centerfielder Andres Torres went 0-for-3 with a walk after missing Saturday's game with a twisted left knee . . . The Mets have failed to score more than three runs in 10 straight home games, one short of equaling the club record. Collins plans to change up the team's pregame preparations for Monday's series opener against the Nationals, but he refused to offer details. Said Collins: "You'll see."

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