Originally created 10/03/04

Atlanta seals Chicago's fate

CHICAGO - At the rate the Atlanta Braves are losing players, head trainer Jeff Porter might be voted the team's MVP before the playoffs even start.

While J.D. Drew's two-run triple in the eighth inning - his first hit of the series - gave the Braves some emotional rescue in an 8-6 win that eliminated the Chicago Cubs from the wild card race Saturday at Wrigley Field, it was pitcher John Thomson's pulled side muscle and third baseman Chipper Jones' bruised hand that received most of the attention afterward.

"We won the game, but we lost two guys along the way," manager Bobby Cox said.

Thomson is questionable for his scheduled Game 2 start in the National League Division Series after pulling a muscle in his right side in the third inning.

"If it's up to me, I want to make (the start)," Thomson said. "That's what we're shooting for. I haven't missed a start since coming back from shoulder surgery and I don't plan to miss this one."

Jones was hit on his right hand by Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano's fastball in the fifth inning and came out of the game. He did say he would be ready for the start of the playoffs. However, the injury ended to his streak of 100-RBI seasons. He won't play today and will finish four RBI shy of matching Sammy Sosa's NL record of nine straight 100-RBI seasons.

"To me, there's very little difference between 96 and 100," Jones said. "It's just that 100 is an intriguing number. If my health hadn't been in question in the first half, this wouldn't have been a problem. I have no one to blame but myself."

Kevin Gryboski got the win, and John Smoltz struck out Nomar Garciaparra and Moises Alou to record his 44th save.

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.


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