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Updated: Saturday, October 4, 2003 10:44 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Atlanta Braves
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
6 12 0
Chicago Cubs
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R H E
4 10 0
W Ortiz (1-1)
L Clement (0-1)
S Smoltz (1)
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ATLANTA 6, CHICAGO CUBS 4
 

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Chipper Jones knows his team's reputation for postseason failures. With the Atlanta Braves on the verge of another long offseason, he did something about it.

Jones homered from both sides of the plate, hitting two-run homers in the fifth and eighth innings, as the Braves forced a decisive Game Five in their National League Division Series with a 6-4 triumph over the Chicago Cubs .

A 10-year veteran who has been in the playoffs in each of those seasons with Atlanta, Jones had just one hit in 11 at-bats coming into Game Four. But the switch hitter snapped a 1-1 tie with a two-run shot off Cubs starter Matt Clement (0-1) in the fifth and gave the bullpen some breathing room with a shot off lefthander Mark Guthrie in the eighth.

It was the second career multi-homer game in Division Series play for Jones, who also did it against Colorado on October 3, 1995 - the only time the Braves won the World Series during their postseason streak.

"It was kind of a feeling of desperation today in the clubhouse," Jones said. "We knew it was basically winning this game or taking a vacation alone and it would have been a rough winter for us."

The Cubs have a drought of their own, having not won a playoff series since 1908. They will try to end that in Game Five on Sunday in Atlanta, where Kerry Wood won Game One.

"We're going to have to hit the ball a little better than we did the last time," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We hope he makes a few mistakes and if we are on our toes, we can hit him a bit."

After Atlanta's Russ Ortiz (1-1) alowed two runs in five-plus innings, five relievers combined to get through the next three frames. All-Star closer John Smoltz came on and allowed a run in the ninth but retired Sammy Sosa - representing the tying run - on a long flyout to center field to end the game.

"Everyone knows that Smoltz is a good closer, I just wanted an opportunity to get a good pitch to hit," Sosa said. "That last pitch was a little outside, that is why I couldn't get a full swing."

Jones, who has been a staple of the Braves' offensive attack since 1995, picked an opportune time to snap out of his postseason funk. He had just five singles in Atlanta's Division Series loss to San Francisco last season and had managed just one single in the first three games of this series.

Adding to the magnitude of Jones' performance was the fact that he did it without fellow slugger Gary Sheffield in the lineup. The Atlanta right fielder missed the game with a sore left hand and is questionable for Game Five.

"Losing Gary Sheffield , that's a big blow to anybody's offense," Jones said. "Not to have him right there in the middle, I knew at some point I was going to come in to a game-deciding situation."

Following the game, Cox still was not sure if he would have Sheffield for Game Five.

"I haven't talked to him since this morning," Cox said. "They worked on him the entire ballgame inside, and I just can't answer that right now."

Moved up a spot to third in the lineup, Jones snapped the fifth-inning tie by burying a 1-1 pitch just over the wall in center field. It was his seventh career Division Series homer, the most by an NL hitter.

Clement retired Javy Lopez on a groundout but Andruw Jones walked, Julio Franco singled and Vinny Castilla made it 4-1 with a base hit to left.

"We were trying to get another inning out of him," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We thought about (pulling him) but it just wasn't quite the time."

Clement allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also walked four in his first career postseason appearance.

Eric Karros ' homer leading off the sixth got Chicago within 4-2. After Alex Gonzalez walked, Cox turned the game over to his bullpen, which produced a big effort.

Ray King and Kevin Gryboski combined to get through the sixth and Jaret Wright cruised through the seventh.

Chipper Jones pushed Atlanta's lead to 6-2 in the eighth by ripping a 3-2 pitch from Guthrie over the wall in right-center field.

"I was just trying to hit the ball hard to be honest with you," Chipper Jones said. "Out of his hand I saw the ball up and over the plate. I didn't put a powerful swing on it, but I hit it."

Karros' second homer of the contest drew the Cubs within 6-3 and Smoltz relieved Will Cunnane to start the ninth. Former Brave Randall Simon and Damian Miller stroked back-to-back doubles to produce a run, but Smoltz retired the next three batters in order.


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