Braves can’t send Bobby Cox out on top as Giants advance to NLCS

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox number is painted on the field during a tribute ceremony honoring the retiring manager prior to their National League MLB baseball game in Atlanta, Georgia, October 2, 2010.  REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Nobody can say that the Atlanta Braves didn’t try to send their beloved manager Bobby Cox (who decided before the year started that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2010 season) out on a high note. They played with enthusiasm, passion and urgency, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

The Braves’ mantra at the start of the postseason was “11 for 6,” which is the number of wins they needed to win the World Series (11) for Cox, who wears No. 6. Unfortunately they came up 10 wins shy, as the Giants beat Atlanta 3-2 on Monday night to take the best-of-five series 3-1 and advance to the NLCS to face the Phillies.

Cox and the Braves couldn’t have asked for a better outing from Derek Lowe, who allowed three runs (two earned) over 6 1/3 innings in the loss. He didn’t allow a hit for the first 5 1/3 innings, but Cody Ross (who went 2-for-3 tonight and singled home the eventual game-winning run in the eighth inning) took him deep in the sixth to tie the game at 1-1. Lowe was pitching on only three days of rest, yet his sinker baffled San Francisco hitters for most of the night before he hung a pitch to Ross, who made him pay for the mistake.

While you can’t take anything away from the Giants (whose starting pitching was absolutely phenomenal throughout the entire series and they got another strong performance tonight from rookie Madison Bumgarner), they were the benefactors of close calls the entire series. Every time there was a close play at one of the bags, it went in San Francisco’s favor. Before Ross singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth, it appeared as though Pat Burrell was thrown out on a Juan Uribe hit to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who made a throwing error to second baseman Omar Infante. The throw took Infante off the bag, but replays showed that he might have kept his toe on the bag.

That said, all of those plays were bang-bang and umpires don’t have the luxury of watching instant replay in order to get the calls right. Unfortunately for the Braves, they were snake bitten by the human element of baseball in this series.

So was Cox, who received a standing ovation at the end of the game from both the fans and the Giants, who congratulated each other and then stayed on the field to celebrate the skipper’s historic career. It was a classy move and it was a well-deserved moment for the three-time NL Manger of the Year and the two-time World Series champion.

Thanks for all the memories, Bobby.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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