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Braves clinch wild-card berth with Freeman’s walk-off home run

Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones reacts at third base after Freddie Freeman hit a walk off 2-run homer at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. The Braves won, 4-3.

By Carroll Rogers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution –

ATLANTA — Kris Medlen was chasing history, and the Braves a wild-card berth, but so much about the 2012 season has been about Chipper Jones, and he helped the Braves accomplish both Tuesday night.

Jones led off the ninth inning with a double, took third on a wild pitch, then went charging home from third base with his right arm in the air after Freddie Freeman launched a two-run home run to center that brought Jones and the Braves home with a 4-3 win over the Marlins.

As unlikely a ride as it might seem that Medlen had taken the Braves on for 21 consecutive starts, to the cusp of a major-league record, it almost came to a halt with an even more unlikely ending.

Marlins rookie Donovan Solano produced three runs in two swings off Medlen with the first two home runs of his career to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead. But his teammates rallied for him.

Medlen was chasing his own piece of history Tuesday night at Turner Field, but what he really wanted was to help erase some for his teammates.

A year after the Braves blew an 8 ½-game wild-card lead in September, Medlen helped them clinch a wild-card berth with eight games to spare. The Braves are assured of at the least a spot in the wild-card game Oct. 5.

Next they will try to secure home-field advantage and give the Nationals something to think about.

While the Braves earned a trip to the postseason for the second time in three years, they also walked off with their 22st consecutive victory behind Medlen, something only three pitchers have been associated with since 1920.

The New York Giants did it behind Carl Hubbell in 1936-37, and the New York Yankees did behind Whitey Ford in 1950 and 1953, in and around two years he spent serving in the Korean War.

Jones, an old-timer in his own right, opened his final regular-season homestand the same way he has every milestone along the way this season: making an impact. He scored the game-tying run after a leadoff walk in the second and drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to score Jason Heyward.

He also made a couple of his patented charging plays behind Medlen at third base.

Medlen gave up a solo home run to Solano, the first home run of the rookie’s major league career, on a stray 1-0 fastball in the second inning. He then allowed a two-run shot to the opposite field in the seventh inning, on an 0-2 fastball with two outs.

Until Greg Dobbs singled softly over Jones at third base with two outs, Medlen had retired 10 in a row. He gave up five hits and three runs in seven innings, while striking out eight and walking none.

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