Sheets wraps up career as Braves blank Pirates
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Ben Sheets made the 250th and final start of his major league career Wednesday as the Atlanta Braves blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-0, in the regular-season finale for both teams at PNC Park.
Sheets, 34, announced his retirement on Tuesday, and briefly showed why he was the 10th overall draft selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1999.
The Louisiana native pitched the first inning, did not allow a run and struck out a pair for the Braves (94-68), who will face the St. Louis Cardinals at home in the NL wild card matchup on Friday.
Luis Avilan (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless second inning in relief of Sheets.
Chipper Jones picked up a pinch-hit single and a run scored in his final regular season game, with J.C. Boscan, Dan Uggla, Martin Prado and Juan Francisco all knocking in runs in the victory.
"94 wins, you'll take," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his team's regular season results. "I'm so proud of our club. Our goal is always to win the division, but Washington had a heck of a year. But, we're in the postseason."
A.J. Burnett (16-10) allowed four runs on eight hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts for the Pirates (79-83), who finished below the .500 mark for the 20th consecutive season.
Andrew McCutchen went 1-for-3 in the loss and finished the regular season with a .327 average.
"I felt we were better than 79 wins," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need to do better. Our goals is to have positive movement throughout the season and win more games, but at the same time, we've got to stretch ourselves and challenge ourselves."
The Braves manufactured a run in their first at-bat without a hit. Michael Bourn drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third and trotted home on a sacrifice fly to right by Prado.
Atlanta added a run in the fourth inning. Jason Heyward got things started with a base hit up the middle, swiped second and scored on a line drive shot into the right-center field gap by Uggla.
Jones started the Atlanta sixth with a pinch-hit single into right, Heyward beat out an infield single and Uggla walked to load the bases with one out. Boscan shot a run-scoring single into center field and Francisco plated Heyward with a groundout, extending the lead to 4-0.
Craig Kimbrel came on for the ninth inning and fanned Starling Marte, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata in order to send the Braves into the postseason on a winning note.
Burnett was aiming to become the first Pirates pitcher to win nine home games in a single season since Zach Duke accomplished the feat in 2006. He finished the season 8-2 in 11 day game starts this season ... Jones finished with 2,726 regular-season hits ... Sheets ends his career ranked third all-time in starts among pitchers who have never made a relief appearance. He trails only Tom Glavine (682) and CC Sabathia (383) ... 2012 marks the Braves' 26th 90-win season in franchise history .. Kimbrel has struck out 116 of the 231 batters he has faced this season.
10/03 17:58:21 ET