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Then, shortly before Atlanta took the field, the 39-year-old Jones _ the only remaining player from the 1995 World Series champions _ gathered the entire team around him in the dugout for a pep talk. Everyone listened intently, then began clapping when he finished.

Hudson pitched six-hit ball over 6 1-3 innings, just the sort of performance Atlanta needed given its offensive struggles of late.

But the final innings were excruciating for the Braves, who saw the Cardinals’ big lead on the out-of-town board and knew they had to win.

Uggla was thrown out at home by Pence to end the sixth. Fill-in shortstop Jack Wilson botched a likely double-play ball in the seventh, allowing the Phillies to cut Atlanta’s lead to a single run.

Eric O’Flaherty took over for Hudson after the error, and the defense came through with a double play that ended the threat. Jonny Venters ran into more problems in the eighth before striking out Raul Ibanez with the bases loaded. Finally, it was Kimbrel, unable to escape the mess he made for himself.

“It was tough to be so close and then have the feeling like it was falling out of your hands,” he said. “And that’s the feeling I have now.”