Jones hit a go-ahead, three-run double in the fourth inning off Cliff Lee(notes), added his 2,500th career hit and the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 on Friday night in their home opener.
Even better, Bobby Cox was there to see it all after throwing out the first pitch.
“I couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Jones said.
Jones had two hits to reach the milestone.
Lee (1-1) couldn’t hold an early 3-0 lead as the Braves scored three runs in the second and then knocked the left-hander out of the game with three in the fourth.
“That’s why he’s a big-game pitcher,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Hudson escaped a fifth-inning jam when Ryan Howard(notes) hit into a double play with the bases loaded. Howard hit a soft grounder to Hudson, who threw to catcher Brian McCann(notes) to start the double play.
“I’m proud of it,” Hudson said of his hard-fought win. “It wasn’t pretty by any means, but you can’t argue with the results.”
The Braves won in the home debut for Gonzalez, who caught the pregame first pitch from Cox, his predecessor.
“He had good movement,” Gonzalez said of Cox’s toss from in front of the mound. “He had a nice, little sinker going for him.”
Lee lasted only 3 1-3 innings, giving up 10 hits and six runs with a walk and one hit batter. He struck out three.
“I felt like his (arm) angle wasn’t real good,” said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel. “He was up mostly all night. It was hard to get his breaking ball over.
“He has a game like that every once in a while.”
Lee’s outing was his shortest since Sept. 4, 2009, when he lasted only three innings for Philadelphia in a 7-0 loss at Houston.
Hudson found trouble and bad luck in the first inning. Shane Victorino(notes) led off the game with a single that bounced off second base. Placido Polanco(notes) followed with a single to shallow left but was forced out at second on a grounder by Jimmy Rollins(notes).
Cox was the only manager Jones had played for before this season. Cox retired after last season.
“You had to know Bobby Cox was going to be in the house tonight,” Jones said.
Jones is the ninth switch-hitter to reach 2,500 hits. The three RBIs left him with 1,497. If he drives in three more runs, Jones will join Eddie Murray as the only switch-hitters with at least 2,500 hits and 1,500 RBIs.
“He’s just been a good, solid hitter his whole career,” Manuel said. “I saw him in the minor leagues. He’s not a lifetime .300 hitter for nothing.”
Before the game, the 38-year-old Jones called 2,500 hits “a nice round number” but said the milestone is “not a huge deal.”
Cox, wearing his No. 6 jersey and khaki pants, tipped his Braves cap to the fans before throwing the pitch—a little wide—from the front of the mound. Gonzalez, a former catcher, caught the pitch and the two then embraced briefly.
“I threw a four-seamer that sunk,” Cox said.
Gonzalez was Cox’s third base coach from 2003-06.
The Braves did not announce the unusual pairing for the first pitch. Last year, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron threw the first pitch to then-rookie right fielder Jason Heyward.
Cox is fourth all-time with 2,504 wins, including 2,149 in 25 years with the Braves.
NOTES: Bastardo recorded six straight strikeouts after giving up Jones’ milestone hit. … The Braves optioned LHP Mike Minor(notes) to Triple-A Gwinnett and purchased the contract of C J.C. Boscan(notes). Minor made a fill-in start in a 5-4 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday as RHP Jair Jurrjens(notes) opened the season on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. Jurrjens will make a rehab start for Gwinnett on Monday and could then return to Atlanta. … Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, attended the game and sat near Cox’s family.