Chipper Jones rounded third base, took one look at his grinning teammates surrounding home plate and flung his batting helmet into the air before jumping into the welcoming party.
The moment Jones said he'll savour in retirement came after a dramatic homer that can help his chances of one more post-season.
Jones hit a three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the ninth inning, capping a five-run rally that sent the Atlanta Braves over the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 on Sunday.
The switch-hitting Jones was swinging as a left-handed hitter when he saw three straight fastballs from Papelbon. Jones pulled the third pitch deep into the right-field seats.
Then came the celebration every player cherishes — none more than the 40-year-old Jones, who is retiring after the season.
"In that mob scene at the plate, you kind of get lost in it, time kind of stands still," Jones said. "You're not really thinking about any of that other stuff. You're just thrilled that you won a game.
"Nothing beats that. That's as good as it gets."
Jones has two game-ending homers this season, both against the Phillies. On May 2 in Atlanta, his 11th-inning, two-run shot gave the Braves a 15-13 win.
This win was more important, because the Braves appeared bound for their fourth straight loss. There was growing talk the team could stage of repeat of its collapse in September of 2011 when it blew a wild-card lead. The 2011 collapse ended with three straight home losses to the Phillies.
Talk of another September failure would have grown if the Braves had been swept. Instead, they boosted their status as the NL wild-card leader.
"This is something I think we need right here," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "This is something to get the team going again and get the juices flowing again.
"He came through again. … It's unbelievable."
WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg allowed two hits over six scoreless innings, striking out nine before being pulled as the Nationals beat visiting St. Louis.
The NL East-leading Nationals took three of four from St. Louis and passed their 80-win total from last season.
Strasburg, rocked for seven runs last Tuesday at Miami, left with a 2-0 lead and a 2.94 ERA. He threw 97 pitches and wound up with a no-decision.
The 23-year-old Strasburg has struck out a league-leading 195 in 156 1/3 innings this season. The Nationals have repeatedly stated they intend on shutting him down in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010. After the game, manager Davey Johnson indicated Strasburg has two starts left.
HOUSTON - Jay Bruce's three-run homer keyed Cincinnati's five-run eighth inning and the NL Central-leading Reds rallied past the hometown Astros.
Bruce's 29th homer came against Xavier Cedeno (0-1).
Bruce, who is from nearby Beaumont, Texas, has three homers and 10 RBIs in nine games at Houston this season.
Jose Arredondo (6-2) allowed two hits and two runs in the seventh and Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his 34th save.
CHICAGO — Angel Pagan hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth inning and NL West-leading San Francisco closed out a successful road trip by beating the Cubs.
Santiago Casilla (6-5) pitched an inning to get the victory and Javier Lopez got the final two outs for his sixth save in eight chances. The Giants went 5-1 on a swing through Houston and Chicago - the two worst teams in the NL Central.
The Giants took advantage of a bout of wildness by Carlos Marmol (2-3) to grab the lead in the ninth.
LOS ANGELES — Adrian Gonzalez doubled in the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Los Angeles Dodgers over Arizona.
Gonzalez lined an 0-2 pitch into the right-field corner off J.J. Putz (1-5) after Mark Ellis singled with one out and Shane Victorino walked.
Ronald Belisario (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out three while allowing a double to Chris Johnson.
Matt Kemp ran up to Gonzalez and tossed a container of water on him during an on-field post-game interview. Gonzalez had struggled since being traded to the Dodgers from Boston on Aug. 25.
MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun hit his NL-leading 37th home run, pitcher Yovani Gallardo also connected and the Milwaukee Brewers sent Pittsburgh to its 10th loss in 13 games.
Jeff Bianchi, Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez also connected as Milwaukee tied a season high with five home runs. Milwaukee has won six in a row at home and 14 of its last 16 at Miller Park.
Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry and Gaby Sanchez homered for the wild card-contending Pirates, who got swept in the three-game series.
Pirates starter James McDonald (12-7) was tagged for eight runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out six, but was tagged for four home runs.
MIAMI — Jason Bay hit his fifth career grand slam in the Mets' five-run first inning and New York earned a three-game sweep over Miami.
Chris Young (4-7) allowed one run and five hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three as the Mets won for the seventh time in eight games.
The Mets wasted little time in getting to Mark Buehrle (12-12).
DENVER — Chris Nelson had a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Colorado Rockies overcame a career-best six RBIs by Chase Headley to beat San Diego Padres.
Tyler Colvin and Ramon Hernandez also homered and Dexter Fowler had three hits and two RBIs for the Rockies.
Headley drove in at least one run with each of his four hits, including his 23rd homer of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning. Alexi Amarista had a career-best five hits for the Padres, who had a season-high 20 on the day.
Guillermo Moscoso (1-1) retired the only batter he faced to close the seventh, and Rafael Betancourt gave up three consecutive two-out hits in the ninth -- including an RBI single by Amarista – before getting Chris Denorfia to ground out for his 27th save.