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October 6, 2012

Cardinals beat Braves in disputed wild card following blown call in eighth

ATLANTA — Talk about a wild card.

This one was just plain wild.

Chipper Jones played his final game. The Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a trash heap after a disputed infield fly. And the St. Louis Cardinals did what they always seem to do in October.

Celebrated another postseason triumph.

Matt Holliday homered and the Cardinals rallied from an early deficit, taking advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors — the most crucial of them by the retiring Jones — to beat the Braves 6-3 in a winner-take-all wild-card playoff Friday.

In the eighth inning, there was more crazy throwing, this time by an irate crowd that littered the field to protest an umpiring decision that went against the Braves. The Cardinals fled for cover, the Braves protested and the game was halted for 19 minutes while workers cleared up all the beer cups, popcorn holders and other debris.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was asked if he’d ever seen anything like it.

“Not in the United States,” he said.

Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre said the protest was denied. St. Louis advanced to face Washington in the best-of-five division round, beginning Sunday at Busch Stadium.

The Braves are done for this season, the recipients of another heartbreaking loss in the playoffs.

The 40-year-old Jones is all done, period. He managed an infield hit in his final at-bat but threw away a double play ball in the fourth, which led to a three-run inning that wiped out Atlanta’s 2-0 lead behind Kris Medlen.

“Ultimately, I feel I’m the one to blame,” Jones said.

But this one-and-done game will be remembered for the eighth, when a disputed call on a fly ball that dropped in short left field cost the Braves a chance at extending Jones’ career.

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