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Jones' story has no storybook ending

ATLANTA -- Braves fans gave Chipper Jones a thunderous standing ovation when he came to the plate in the ninth inning and about 1,000 were still chanting his name nearly an hour after the game.

But it definitely wasn't the kind of farewell game that the future Hall of Famer or his loyal fans were hoping.

Doesn't anyone know how to write a feel-good final chapter?

Jones committed the most costly of Atlanta's three errors and didn't get the ball out of the infield in the Braves' one-and-done 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night in the first National League wild-card play-in game.

More than one sign around Turner Field read, "Win one for the Chipper."

Instead, Jones' career and the Braves' season came to an end in part because of the struggles of the long-time third baseman, who made a throwing error in the fourth inning that led to three St. Louis runs.

Jones took full responsibility, rather than join his teammates in bemoaning a controversial umpire's call in the eighth inning.

" ... I kept my mouth shut because ultimately I feel that I'm the one to blame," he said. "That play should have been a tailor-made double play. ... It just seemed like that play there turned everything.

"Walking away from your last game, you certainly don't want ... to make an error that loses the season for your ballclub. That will be something I'll have to deal with in the days to come."

Jones said that the throw "just sailed on me, no other way to explain it." He wasn't alone in making bad throws, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons also tossed away balls.

But for Jones, it stung the most.

"I think that when we look back on this loss, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror," he said.

It certainly wasn't the way Jones wanted his career to end or had imagined.

"I can assure you that," he said.

Asked if it had sunk in yet that he had played his last game, the 40-year-old Jones shook his head.

"No, I don't think it will for a few days, maybe a week," he said. "I don't know. As I told everybody today, I'm OK. I obviously wanted to move on. I wanted to come out here and play well.

"Today my heart is broken not for me, my heart is broken for my teammates and my coaching staff and all these fans that have been so great to us this year.

"But I'll be OK. It's just one of those things. ... I walk out of here knowing that I brought it every single day. ... It makes walking away on the final day a little bit easier."

Before the game, Jones reflected on the possibility that his career could soon by be over.

"I'm good either way," he had said. "I was riding in with my mom and dad and I turned around and told my dad, 'This is why I know I'm ready to go. I'm not even nervous.'"

But there was no question how wound up Braves fans were about the wild-card play-in game with the season at stake.

That was obvious with the reaction to the controversial call. Bottles and paper cups rained down on the field.

Jones called the display "disappointing" and said, "You never want to see something get violent like that."

But he also couldn't help but admire the fans' passion.

"I know one thing is for sure," Jones said. "You won't be able to say that Braves fans don't care."

With their continued chants after one of his worst games, it was obvious that Atlanta fans care a great deal about the Braves.

For 19 seasons, Jones was a big reason why.