ATLANTA — Chipper Jones discovered a tiny problem during a stint in the batting cage, the sort of thing that only a hitter of his caliber would notice.
Then he went out and hit his first homer in nearly three weeks.
Jones' opposite-field shot in the first inning helped the Atlanta Braves snap a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. Rookie Tommy Hanson threw six scoreless innings and Garret Anderson also homered, but it was Jones' drive that may have been most heartening for the home team.
The offense-challenged Braves must get big numbers from the reigning NL batting champ, but Jones came into the game mired in a 10-for-60 slump.
"I figured out a little something in the cage this morning," Jones said. "Hopefully I'll have some better swings. I got the bat head where it needed to be."
When Boston starter Brad Penny hung a breaking ball, Jones drove it into the left-field seats for his first homer since June 8.
"I haven't seen a lot of those lately," he said. "Starters, relievers — it didn't matter. They didn't make mistakes against me the whole series. I got pitched really tough. I finally got a mistake in the first and was able to get it out of the park."
Jones followed the homer with two groundouts and a flyout, his average slipping to .289.
"I didn't get a ton of results other than the first inning," he said. "But I'm encouraged that I'm going to turn it around."
Jones said he needs an off day — especially with the sweltering heat in Atlanta — but the Braves have had so much trouble scoring runs that they can't afford to keep their best hitter on the bench.
The schedule provides a break on Monday, when the team is off before beginning a crucial series against NL East-leading Philadelphia.
"I'm just missing them. That happens from time to time," Jones said. "When you're tired, when you're beat up, that's going to happen. I'm looking forward to each and every day off."
SITTING OUT: The Braves were again missing two regular members of the lineup, center fielder Nate McLouth and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
McLouth missed his second straight game after straining a hamstring running out a grounder Friday night. Escobar's injury is a little more intriguing.
While he's been bothered by a hip flexor, the shortstop has also run afoul of manager Bobby Cox for his attitude and lackadaisical play.
Escobar was yanked from a game at Baltimore, and he sat out the entire weekend series against the Red Sox after mouthing an expletive toward the official scorer who charged him with an error Thursday in a loss to the New York Yankees. The incident was picked up by television cameras, which surely didn't help Escobar's cause.
Cox stuck with the company line — Escobar is hurt — and said he hopes both injured players will be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Phillies.
EXTRA BASES: The Braves haven't decided on their rotation for the Phillies series, wanting to make sure RHP Kenshin Kawakami can go to the mound after being struck on the neck by a line drive in his last start. Atlanta could skip Kawakami's spot Tuesday and not have to alter its rotation because of the off day. ... The Braves finished 7-8 in interleague play. ... Atlanta won for only the fifth time in 29 games when scoring no more than two runs.