One last chance for Braves to salvage season

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Braves pitcher Derek Lowe and catcher Brian McCann

ATLANTA,None - Apparently 161 games won’t be enough for the Atlanta Braves. It’s going to take a full 162-game season, and maybe a 163rd game, to determine if the baseball team returns to the playoffs or spends the entire off season thinking about what slipped away.

 Fans gathered outside Turner Field on Wednesday before they opened the gates, excited about a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves once held a commanding lead in the National League wild card race, but a loss on Wednesday night coupled with a St. Louis win would end a historic collapse.

"It's like living out a bad dream," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.

Braves fan Leonard Mets told Channel 2’s Jeff Dore he came from Charleston, S.C. to see the decisive game.

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“I said ‘They’re gonna wait until the last game to clinch it for my birthday,’” Mets said. “We’re gonna see Tim Hudson or one of the big dogs pitch and here we are at the final game.”

Braves pitching ace Tim Hudson will indeed take the mound with one last chance to salvage a season.

"There's no other place I'd rather be than on the mound when the game means something," Hudson said.

Atlanta has lost four in a row — scoring just four runs in that span — and eight of 11 to put itself in this predicament.

"It's no secret what's going on," Hudson said. "We've had some tough games. But once this is all over and, hopefully, we win and we're going to the next level, I think there will be a lot of weight off our shoulders. Hopefully we can get in there and it will be a different tune come playoff time."

If the teams are still tied after Wednesday, there will be a one-game playoff the following day in St. Louis. The Cardinals earned the home field with a 5-1 lead over the Braves in the season series.

"We've played 161 games and it comes down to one," first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've done it to ourselves. No excuses there. We've got to go get it."