Pirates got out with whimper in 4-0 loss to Braves

Associated Press Published: October 3, 2012
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The switch-hitting Jones didn't waste any time. Standing in as a left-hander against Burnett, Jones slapped the first pitch he saw to right field for a single for the 2,726th and final regular-season hit of his career. Jones stuck around to eventually score on a single by Brian McCann that put Atlanta up 3-0.

"I'd like to thank A.J. for coming right at me," Jones said with a laugh.

That was more than enough to send the Braves into the postseason on an up note and send Sheets out a winner in his final game.

The four-time All-Star was in the midst of an admirable comeback from a series of arm injuries this summer — going 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA — before heading to the disabled list in August with right shoulder issues.

He announced earlier this week he had no plans on sticking around for the postseason, but eagerly accepted a chance to walk into retirement on his own terms after the Braves opted to rest scheduled starter Tim Hudson.

Sheets had little trouble during his one inning of work, striking out Starling Marte and McCutchen, the final pitch of his career a 96 mph fastball McCutchen couldn't get his bat on.

""It felt great," Sheets said. "It was as good as anything I could probably draw up."

Sheets will watch Atlanta's postseason run on television and has no plans to try and grab a bullpen job somewhere next year, saying only "dude, I'm good."

So are the 94-win Braves, who are heading into the postseason with some momentum after a stunning collapse last fall forced them to watch the playoffs on television.

Instead of swooning down the stretch this year, they've surged. Atlanta is 20-10 since Sept. 1.

"A little bit different than last year as I recall," Jones said. "I think we'll look back on (last) September as a learning experience. No better example of that than the way we played this September."

NOTES: The Pirates drew 2,091, 918 to PNC Park this season, the second-highest total in team history. The average attendance of 26,149 was up from 23,956 in 2011 ... The Braves will start RHP Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA) Friday against Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86) ... The Pirates open the 2013 season at home on April 1 against the Chicago Cubs.