Padres marvel at Jones after 6-0 loss to Braves

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Aug. 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

San Diego Padres' Jason Marquis, second from left, looks to the umpire after being tagged by Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, right, during the third inning of a baseball game on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. Marquis was ruled out on the play.

Rainier Ehrhardt, Associated Press

ATLANTA — The big crowd cheered Chipper Jones.

The San Diego Padres just marveled at what he's still doing at age 40.

Jones homered twice on a bobblehead night in honor of his farewell season, and the Atlanta Braves won their 15th straight game with Kris Medlen as a starter, beating San Diego 6-0 on Thursday.

Seizing the moment before a weeknight turnout of 33,157 — more than the previous two nights combined — Jones hit a two-run homer in the first, then added a towering solo shot over the wall in center field in the fifth.

"Chipper's swinging good, he really is," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's swinging the bat with a lot of confidence. He's seeing the ball well. Even some of his outs this series have been hard hit."

Jason Marquis gave up both homers to Jones, as well a shot to Jason Heyward.

"He's been living off pitchers' mistakes for a long time," Marquis said of Jones. "That's why he's going to be a Hall of Famer."

After winning the opener of the four-game series, the Padres couldn't do anything offensively. Even though Black called off batting practice, hoping some rest would give the hitters a boost, the Padres were shut out for the second time in three nights, sandwiched around a 6-1 loss.

"We hit the ball on the nose a couple of times hard early in the game," Black said. "We just couldn't get anything going after that."

For Jones, it was his first multihomer game in more than three years and gave him 12 homers in what is turning out to be quite a sendoff heading into retirement. He raised his team-leading average to .315 and came out of the dugout for a curtain call after both drives, the second of which was his 2,700th career hit.

Oh, and the third baseman also made a diving grab, flipping the ball from his stomach to get a force at second.

"If we have to make some silly bobblehead things to get people in the stands, so be it. Keep doing it," Jones said, breaking into a big smile. "We get motivated to play every night, but there are certain nights when it's special, whether certain family members are in the seats, or it's your birthday, or it's bobblehead night.

"You always want to make a splash and bring people to their feet," he added. "This is just another of a handful of games this year that have been awfully special to me."

Don't forget Medlen, who turned in the first complete game of his career with a five-hitter.

"He's more than stated his case to be in the rotation from here on out," Jones said. "The guy just wins ballgames. It's awfully comforting as a player to know your guy is going to hold them to a minimum amount of runs."

Medlen (4-1) did what he always seems to do as a starter — ensure the Braves of a victory. In between his frequent stints as a reliever, Atlanta has won 15 consecutive times when the right-hander begins the game since May 2010. That is the longest current streak in the majors and ties the franchise record set by John Smoltz during his Cy Young Award-winning season in 1996.

"He pounds the strike zone," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Guys love to play behind him."

Medlen won't be in a line for a Cy Young, but he's proven to be one of the Braves' most reliable pitchers no matter what role he's put in. He also showed off his defensive skills, snagging a liner in the first and spinning around to throw out Marquis at the plate as he attempted to score on a third-inning grounder.

"He was able to throw a complete game because he can field his position," Gonzalez said. "Very few guys in our rotation, maybe in the majors, makes that play early in the game where he throws out Marquis at the plate. Usually you go to first base on that play, including me. I was looking over at first."

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