10/05/2012 04:56 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2012

Cardinals vs. Braves LIVE UPDATES: Chipper Jones Takes Center Stage In NL Wild Card Game

National League Wild Card Game
Atlanta Braves (94-68)
St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
Turner Field, Atlanta
5:07 p.m. EST

For the second straight year, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves are vying for one spot in a National League Division Series. Unlike last season when the Braves' campaign concluded with a extra-inning loss in Game No. 162 to the Philadelphia Phillies, they will get a chance to face the Cardinals directly thanks to the revamped Wild Card format.

The 2011 Cardinals began a postseason run that ended with a parade after clinching the NL's lone Wild Card berth (by way of lopsided win over the Houston Astros) on the final day of the regular season. The Cardinals' win coupled with the Braves' loss irrevocably altered the '11 postseason landscape. This year, the defending champs benefited from the addition of a second Wild Card spot after the Braves had already wrapped up the first.

In both cases, St. Louis seems to be the team playing with less pressure.

"We're ecstatic. We'd be home right now," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told The Associated Press ahead of his team's one-game playoff versus the Braves. "We'd be spectators, so we're exceptionally happy about the format."

With the departures of franchise cornerstones Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa after the victorious trip to the 2011 World Series, the Cardinals weren't counted on to defend their crown. A season later, Pujols and the high-priced Angels are sitting at home while 2012 Postseason merch is for purchase at the Cardinals' website.

A key storyline with the 2012 Braves regards the player whose departure is imminent: Chipper Jones. The switch-hitting Braves star has announced his plans to retire at the end of the season. If it were up to him, the Braves wouldn't be facing a win-or-go-home situation to begin the playoffs.

“I think it’s stupid, to be honest with you,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the season was winding down. “But Major Lague Baseball wants a bunch of teams in the playoffs. There’s nothing like cut-throat baseball for the fans. And people love that 163rd regular-season game. They’ve loved it in the past. I’m sure that’s probably what’s promoted a second wild-card team. I wish they would’ve done it a year earlier so we would have had a chance last year. But it is what it is.”

Will the Braves extend Jones' career with a win over the Cardinals? Can Kyle Loshe keep the Red Birds' title defense alive?


10/05/2012 8:37 PM EDT

@ mlbbowman :

Cardinals sprinted off the field as more cups littered the field...Fans now chanting for Chipper..An ugly end to a beautiful career

10/05/2012 8:37 PM EDT

@ LangoschMLB :

#STLCards will not celebrate on the field. More debris being thrown. Manager Mike Matheny ushers his team into the clubhouse.

10/05/2012 8:36 PM EDT


Uggla grounds out to 2B Descalso and the CARDINALS ADVANCE IN A WILD FIRST WILDCARD GAME.

10/05/2012 8:34 PM EDT

Uggla up.

10/05/2012 8:34 PM EDT


Freeman nails one to the left-center gap that hops into the stands for a groundrule double. Chipper to third. 2 outs. Game-tying run at the plate.

10/05/2012 8:33 PM EDT


Chipper hits a slow grounder to 2B Descalso and breaks his bat. Descalso's throw pulled Craig off the bag and Chipper is called SAFE. But it looked like Craig touched the bag. Infield hit for Chipper.

10/05/2012 8:30 PM EDT

Chipper getting a standing ovation. Molina just stepped away and started clapping. Cardinals players are clapping.

10/05/2012 8:29 PM EDT

2 outs

Heyward flies out and now Chipper Jones is up for his final at-bat.

10/05/2012 8:28 PM EDT

1 Out

Prado grounds out to second for the first out. Heeyward up next.

10/05/2012 8:27 PM EDT

Bottom 9

Motte pitching for the 4-out save.