Wickman blows save, but Chipper helps Braves top Giants

Braves 5, Giants 4

ATLANTA (AP) -- Talk about timing. If Bobby Cox was going to break a dubious record, he couldn't have picked a better moment.

Cox was tossed after the fifth inning Tuesday night, breaking John McGraw's record for career ejections, but it fired up Atlanta and may have kept Chipper Jones around to drive home the winning run.

Rallying from a 3-0 deficit after their manager was thrown out, the Braves defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Jones' run-scoring double in the ninth inning.

"You could sense the frustration mounting up," Jones said. "When Bobby saw I was not long for this game, he decided to take over. It worked."

Atlanta's cantankerous manager was tossed after the fifth for arguing a called third strike on Jones -- the 132nd ejection of his career to break the mark originally set by Hall of Famer McGraw.

After closer Bob Wickman blew a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth, the Braves finished off the Giants in the bottom half.

Willie Harris led off with a walk against Steve Kline (1-1), and Kelly Johnson reached on a throwing error by Kline while bunting the runner along. Randy Messenger came on to give up Jones' game-winning hit, which split the gap in left-center.

While baseball doesn't keep records on ejections, the Society for American Baseball Research determined that McGraw was ejected 131 times in his career. That's now only good enough for second place behind Cox.

"If he was going to get it, I'm glad that it came on behalf of me," Jones said with a smile.

Since McGraw was kicked out 14 times as player, Cox already held the mark for managers. He shrugged off his spot in the unofficial record book.

"It's absolutely no factor. It's nothing," Cox said. "It just means I've been around a long time, that's all."

Barry Bonds was in Hank Aaron's home city for the first time since breaking the Hammer's record. The new home run king went 0-for-1 with two walks before coming out in the fifth inning.

The Braves gave tepid recognition to the new record-holder, replaying a taped tribute from Aaron that was initially shown on the video board in San Francisco after Bonds hit No. 756 last week. Bonds was greeted with plenty of boos and signs questioning the legitimacy of his accomplishment in light of suspicions that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Aaron, a senior vice president of the Braves, wasn't at the game. The team said he left Tuesday on a trip and wouldn't return until after the three-game series.

Cox was tossed by plate umpire Ted Barrett after Jones was called out on strikes to end the fifth, with runners at second and third and the Braves trailing 3-0.

Jones was fortunate to stay in the game. He tossed his bat about 80 feet toward the Braves' dugout, threw his helmet nearly as far and clearly muttered a couple expletives.

Asked how he kept from getting ejected, Jones replied, "Good question. But it's a good thing I didn't."

Barrett said he wasn't aware of Cox's record.

"Last time we were here, I knew he had tied it before we came in," the umpire said. "I didn't know he hadn't had any ejections since then."

The reason for the heave-ho: "Just routine arguing balls and strikes," Barrett said. "Nothing out of the ordinary from other ejections."

The Giants weren't much happier with Barrett than the Braves.

"He had a tough time behind the plate tonight," first baseman Ryan Klesko said. "And it was both sides. Guys were questioning his strike zone all night. They can't have great days all the time."

After Cox was tossed, the Braves rallied.

Mark Teixeira sparked a four-run sixth with a homer to center. He has gone deep five times in 12 games with the Braves, who acquired him from Texas just before the deadline for non-waiver trades. He has 18 homers overall this season.

Brian McCann followed with a single to right against Jack Taschner, who was replaced by Scott Atchison. Jeff Francoeur took a called third strike, but Andruw Jones walked and Yunel Escobar followed with a two-run double to the gap in right center.

Escobar, who has played brilliantly for the Braves since being promoted from the minors, clapped his hands emphatically as he stood at second base. He sped home with the go-ahead run on the very next pitch, scoring on Matt Diaz's pinch-single to center.

Wickman (3-2) cost John Smoltz his 11th win. Pinch-hitter Dan Ortmeier tripled with one out and wound up scoring on Dave Roberts' groundout with the bases loaded. The Giants reloaded the bases, but Wickman struck out Klesko.

He had been 9-for-9 in save chances at home, going 19 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run.

"I'm glad we got the win," Wickman said. "But it's not my job to get wins. My job is to get saves."

The Giants jumped ahead in the second on a run-scoring single by Pedro Feliz. Klesko stretched the lead with a two-out, two-run double in the third.

Game notes
Bonds played in left field under the 755 Club, a restaurant named in honor of Aaron's career homer total. ... Smoltz has gone four starts without a win. His last victory came July 23 at San Francisco. ... Wickman has blown six saves in 25 chances.