Tim Hudson struck out eight and surrendered no runs in six innings of work, but even that was not enough to propel the Atlanta Braves over the San Diego Padres. The Braves only scratched out two hits and a single run of support for their pitching staff in a 4-1 loss.
Hudson's performance would be more appropriately described as clutch then masterful. The Atlanta righty gave up six hits over his six innings and issued three walks. He had to work himself out two bases loaded jams but still did not allow a Padre to cross the plate.
"They had me in some jams and put some pretty good at-bats on me, but I was able to make some pitches when I needed to," Hudson said.
Hudson's counterpart, San Diego's Cory Luebke, pitched about as well as one can without getting a win. In just his fourth career start, Luebke only allowed a double to Nate McLouth in the third inning and walks to Hudson and McLouth in five innings. He also struck out six, including four of the first six batters on called third strikes.
"I didn't even feel like I had good swings off of him," Jordan Schafer said. "He hit spots, kept people off balance."
It took until that fateful eighth inning for any scoring to take place at all. Nate McLouth worked a one-out walk from Mike Adams. After Eric Hinske grounded into a fielder's choice, Schafer doubled into the gap and reached third on an error by Will Venable, scoring Hinske.
Jonny Venters then came in for his usual perfect eighth inning, but he would only last 2/3 of an inning after surrendering four runs in his worst outing of the year.
After a walk to Chris Denorfia and a patented Cameron Maybin swinging bunt single, a pinch hitting Rob Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt for two runners in scoring position with one out. Venters then intentionally walked Jesus Guzman to load the bases.
It seemed like Atlanta would steal a win when Venable popped up a bunt attempt straight to Venters for the second out, but a string of hits up the middle said other wise. Jason Bartlett singled up the middle on a grounder that was deflected by Venters to score the first run. Orlando Hudson then singled up the middle, scoring two even with the perfect throw from Schafer. Chase Headley then capped it off with another single up the middle to score Barlett, thus chasing Venters from the game.
"I felt fine," Venters said of his second blown save of the year. "I just didn't make any pitches and blew the game for my team. Try to forget about it and move on to tomorrow."
Even after giving up four runs, Venters' ERA still stands at 1.29.
"I'm pretty sure he should make the All-Star team," Orlando Hudson said. "He's definitely an All-Star type eighth inning guy… He's definitely one of the toughest guys we face."
Heath Bell secured his 20th save of the season on three straight pop-ups by Chipper Jones, Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla.
The loss, couple with the Philadelphia Phillies win over the Oakland A's, puts the Braves five games back in the division.
Atlanta will now travel to Seattle for a three-game set with the Mariners. Brandon Beachy (2-1, 3.22 ERA) will take the mound against Eric Bedard (4-5, 2.93 ERA) in a 10:10 Monday night start.
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