Chipper Jones is finally feeling healthy at the right time for the Atlanta Braves. Jones hit his 300th career home run to lead the Braves to a 5-4 win
over the San Diego Padres on Monday night.
With his fifth homer in four games, Jones became the fourth player in franchise history to reach 300 -- joining Hank Aaron (733), Eddie Mathews (493)
and Dale Murphy (371).
"Everyone knows how good of a hitter he is," winning pitcher Mike Hampton said. "He's our guy, he's our horse."
Jones, who has missed 23 games because of injuries, said he's feeling as good as he has all season.
"I expect (a lot) of myself," Jones said. "I expected to be doing a lot more than I have. Unfortunately, injuries haven't really allowed me to get
into a groove. We still have a month and a half left in the season. It's good to be finally contributing on a daily basis."
J.D. Drew and Andruw Jones also homered for the Braves, who won for the ninth time in 12 games. Atlanta has also won 17 of its last 20 road games.
"The long ball beat us," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "Keeping the ball in the ballpark was a problem. They have a lot of power over there and we
made some mistakes and paid for it."
Hampton (9-8) held the Padres to three runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings, winning his seventh straight decision. He struck out three and walked
"I have a lot of confidence in him," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's been on a nice roll for us."
John Smoltz got four outs for his 30th save in 32 chances.
Chipper Jones hit a full-count fastball off Sterling Hitchcock that bounced off the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building beyond the
left-field fence and gave Atlanta a 3-0 lead.
The home run was Jones' 20th of the season, marking the 10th straight year he's reached that mark. Jones also moved past Ruben Sierra of the New York
Yankees into fifth place on the career homers list for switch-hitters.
"Three hundred is special," said Jones, who picked up his 1,000th career RBI on Sunday night against St. Louis said. "Hopefully, I can stay healthy
enough to shoot for 400. I can't stand too many more years like this year. It's been a rough year physically. Hopefully, those woes are behind me and
we can concentrate on the next 100."
Drew tied his career high with his 27th homer, a two-run shot off Blaine Neal in the seventh to give Atlanta a 5-1 cushion.
Hampton left after walking Khalil Greene to start the seventh with a 5-2 lead. Chris Reitsma gave up a single to Rich Aurilia and, with two outs, was
relieved by Smoltz.
Brian Giles singled in a run and Ryan Klesko hit a soft roller up the middle to bring in another run to cut the lead to 5-4. Smoltz then struck out
Jay Payton looking to end the inning.
Hampton escaped a jam in the second with an inning-ending double play. Giles and Klesko had consecutive singles to start the second. But after
striking out Payton, Hampton induced Ramon Hernandez into the double play.
Hampton helped himself in the second with a one-out RBI double that scored Eli Marrero, who doubled following Andruw Jones' leadoff homer.
"Right now, with my velocity and stuff, I'm not able to make a lot of mistakes and get away with it," Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock (0-3) is winless in three starts since coming back on Aug. 5 after being sidelined with injuries since spring training. Hitchcock allowed
four runs on six hits in 6 1-3 innings, his longest outing of the season.
The Padres scored in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-1 on an RBI single by Phil Nevin. San Diego added another run in the seventh after Payton tripled
with two outs and Hernandez singled.