ATLANTA (AP)—Chipper Jones was back at third base and kept a rally going in a come-from-behind victory.
For the Atlanta Braves, this seemed just like old times.
Chipper Jones made his first start at third base since Oct. 21, 2001, when the Braves lost to Arizona in Game 5 of the NL championship series. An everyday third baseman from 1995-01, he went 1-for-4 and made two routine plays in the field.
“I think he’s more comfortable at third base,” Andruw Jones said. “And he thinks he can stay healthy there.”
An injured right hamstring forced Chipper Jones to the bench, and he still can’t run well enough to cover the outfield. He had been taking grounders at first in the past few weeks and was expected to play there; instead, the 1999 NL MVP replaced Mark DeRosa at third.
Chipper Jones declined to speak with reporters after the game. Earlier in the day, he appeared to relish the opportunity to return to the infield, even though he bumped one of his best friends out of the lineup.
“Third is my natural position, I feel comfortable there,” Jones said. “I’ve never played an inning at first. It just seemed like the natural thing to do.”
His teammates adjusted to the change.
“It was great to have him out there, he seemed fine,” Braves starter Russ Ortiz said. “That was what I always remembered him as, being at third base. But it was a little odd to see him there at first.”
Atlanta’s comeback ruined a fine performance by Dennys Reyes, who took a 2-1 lead into the eighth. But he walked Rafael Furcal to lead off the inning, and Kansas City manager Tony Pena brought in Grimsley (3-3).
“He probably did the right thing,” Reyes said. “I was not surprised.”
Nick Green sacrificed Furcal to second, and Andruw Jones singled up the middle to bring in Furcal with the tying run. Chipper Jones reached on an error by first baseman Mike Sweeney, and both runners moved up on a fielder’s choice by Johnny Estrada.
“Grimsley did his job and got a groundball,” Sweeney said. “I’ll take this loss on my shoulders. No excuses, I didn’t make the play.”
With a 1-2 count on Julio Franco, Grimsley threw a wild pitch that allowed Andruw Jones to jog home with the winning run.
“Julio’s so tough,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “He really makes a pitcher battle. You’ve got to really work to get him out. That ball hit the ground and just took off.”
Grimsley left without speaking to reporters, and his night got even worse after the game when the Royals released reliever Curtis Leskanic, one of his best friends on the team.
Reyes tied a career high with the seven innings pitched, and he allowed two runs on seven hits. Atlanta’s Russ Ortiz also gave up two runs on seven hits in seven innings.
With this three-game series, the Royals have faced every team in the regular season or playoffs. The Braves still haven’t played Anaheim or the Cleveland Indians, who travel to Atlanta this weekend.
Kansas City took a 1-0 lead on Ken Harvey’s RBI single in the first, and the Braves tied it in their half when a double by Andruw Jones scored Furcal. The Royals gave Reyes that 2-1 lead in the fourth when Angel Berroa singled home Joe Randa.
Randa singled in the fourth, giving him 1,000 hits as a member of the Royals. … DeRosa lined out to second as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. … Atlanta C Johnny Estrada went 0-for-4 to extend his slump to 4-for-22. …Kansas City fell to 7-21 on the road.