PHILADELPHIA - It would not have been shocking to see one of the Braves' young players falter Wednesday. With so much riding on every pitch, a rookie reliever, for example, might just buckle under it all.
But Chipper Jones? The one those younger players turn to for advice?
With Atlanta's faint playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Jones committed a costly throwing error Wednesday in a 5-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park. His third-inning gaffe led to three Phillies runs, which turned out to be the difference in the game. And the unexpected hope that came with Tuesday's win vanished amid a sea of white towels waved by the crowd of 36,588.
Before San Diego played late Wednesday night, Atlanta's elimination number in the wild card race - any combination of Braves losses and Padres wins - was down to two. The Braves could be mathematically assured of missing the playoffs for the second straight season by the end of today's series finale.
Tim Hudson allowed just two earned runs - five total - in six innings of work. He wasn't dominant but gave the Braves a good chance to win with timely hitting and mistake-free defense. They had neither.
Mark Teixeira's two-run homer in the fourth inning accounted for Atlanta's only runs. And the Braves finished with just six hits while leaving two runners in scoring position.
They had no margin for error - certainly not one big enough to overcome Jones'.
With two on and two outs in the third, Hudson got Aaron Rowand to hit a grounder to third for the likely third out. But after picking up the two-hopper cleanly, Jones threw wide of first, well beyond Teixeira's reach.
One run scored on the error, only the ninth of the season for Jones. And the next batter, Greg Dobbs, drove in two runs with a single up the middle to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.
Hudson had already given up a first-inning RBI single to Ryan Howard, which came after Jimmy Rollins led off with a triple. But he was more a victim of bad luck than making bad pitches.
Teixeira cut the deficit in half with a two-run blast in the fourth, his second home run in the last two nights.
But Phillies starter Kyle Lohse retired nine of the next 10 Braves batters. And Phillies pinch hitter Shane Victorino made it 5-2 Philadelphia with a solo home run off Hudson to lead off the seventh.
Manager Bobby Cox pulled Hudson with no outs in the inning, making it Hudson's shortest outing since the last time he faced the Phillies - on Sept. 5.
He gave up eight hits and one walk while striking out five.
SideBar: Braves at Phillies
' When: Today, 7:05 p.m.
' Where: Philadelphia
' TV/Radio: SportSouth
' Final series: Atlanta at Houston (Friday-Sunday)