ATLANTA — Chipper Jones says this is a crucial stretch of the season for the Atlanta Braves.
The 40-year-old third baseman is happy to have found his swing just in time to play a lead role in the two weeks before the All-Star break.
Jones and Jason Heyward homered and the Braves withstood Arizona’s comeback attempt to beat the Diamondbacks 6-4 on Wednesday night.
Jones’ two-run homer off Trevor Cahill in the sixth inning was his first since May 4 and came after he had three hits in the Braves’ 8-1 win on Tuesday night for a successful start to the 10-game homestand.
“I’ve finally got my swing right,” said Jones, who returned on June 10 after spending two weeks on the disabled list with a left calf contusion. “I’m feeling good. I’ve got some confidence.
“This game is fun when you’re playing well and you feel like you can go out and do some damage.”
Tommy Hanson (9-4) gave up three runs and seven hits in 6⅓ innings.
The Braves led 6-0 before Ryan Roberts’ three-run homer in the seventh knocked Hanson out of the game. Chris Young added a pinch-hit homer off Jonny Venters later in the inning to cut Atlanta’s lead to two runs.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to earn his NL-leading 22nd save. Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said Kimbrel was “nasty and dominating.”
The Braves began the night 3½ games behind first-place Washington in the NL East.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said Jones “is on a different level right now with how much energy he’s had the last couple of days.”
Uggla helped preserve the two-run lead in the eighth. Arizona had runners on first and second when Uggla went to his left to snag Miguel Montero’s grounder off Eric O’Flaherty. Uggla turned and threw to shortstop Andrelton Simmons at second base to start a double play which ended the inning.
“If we don’t turn that we still may be playing or we’re behind the 8 ball and maybe lose,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew was 1-for-4 as he came off the disabled list to make his first start since July 20, 2011. He missed most of the second half of 2011 and the first 73 games this season while recovering from a fractured right ankle that required surgery.
Heyward, hitting second for the second straight night, gave the Braves a 1-0 lead with his first-inning homer. He hit a belt-high pitch from Cahill deep into the seats in center for his 12th homer. It was Heyward’s fourth homer during his career-best 12-game hitting streak.
Cahill (6-6) then gave up a double to Martin Prado before recording 11 straight outs.
Cahill’s throwing error and three walks led to two unearned runs in the Braves’ three-run fifth. Jones walked and moved to second on Freddie Freeman’s single to right. Cahill fielded Simmons’ grounder and threw low to second base for an error, allowing Jones to score.
“I was thinking double play,” Cahill said. “I just should have taken my time. But I threw it away.”
Freeman and Simmons scored on fly balls by Michael Bourn and Prado.
Cahill was pulled after walking Uggla and giving up Jones’ homer to center in the sixth. It was Jones’ sixth homer of the season and 460th of his career.
Cahill, who had been 4-0 in June, gave up six runs <0x2014> four earned <0x2014> four hits and four walks in five-plus innings.
Drew led off the fourth with a single for the first hit off Hanson. He moved to second on Heyward’s fielding error in right and advanced to third on Justin Upton’s groundout.
Drew was stranded on third, starting a string of Arizona leaving a runner on third base in three straight innings. Aaron Hill doubled in the fifth and was left on third. Upton doubled with two outs in the sixth and moved to third on Hanson’s wild pitch but the inning ended on Jason Kubel’s strikeout.
“Really, we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities early in the game so it didn’t work out very well,” Gibson said.
Hanson faded quickly in the seventh, giving up consecutive singles to Miguel Montero and Hill before Roberts’ homer cut the lead to 6-3.
Arizona had runners on first and second in the eighth when Montero hit into a double play to end the threat against O’Flaherty.