Atlanta (26-17) at Boston (29-13)

Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 44° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Sun May 20, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Tim Hudson has been outstanding for the Atlanta Braves in 2007, but Sunday’s matchup could be his toughest test yet.

Hudson seeks an end to his troubles against Boston when the Braves and Red Sox play the deciding contest of their three-game set at Fenway Park.

The veteran right-hander endured the worst year of his career in 2006, when he posted personal worsts in both losses (12) and ERA (4.86). Hudson (5-1, 1.77 ERA) has bounced back this season, though, as he ranks third in the majors in ERA and has pitched at least six innings in all nine of his starts.

On Tuesday, Hudson was perfect for 4 2-3 innings and finished with one run and three hits allowed in seven innings of Atlanta’s 6-2 victory at Washington.

“Huddy was just completely outstanding once again,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s pitched that way the entire season.”

However, he has rarely pitched that way against the Red Sox. Hudson is 3-7 with a 5.80 ERA in 10 career starts versus Boston, including a 1-4 record and 7.92 ERA in five outings at Fenway. Despite the fact Hudson has never pitched in Boston’s division, the seven losses are his most against any opponent.

He has also dropped all four of his starts to the Red Sox (29-13) since the start of 2004, while allowing 20 earned runs and walking 17 batters in 20 innings.

After a Friday rainout forced a day-night doubleheader Saturday, each team won one game in lopsided fashion. In the opener, Mike Lowell had four hits— including a grand slam—and five RBIs to lead the Red Sox to a 13-3 victory. The Boston third baseman raised his batting average to .333, the second consecutive season he’s been hitting .330 or higher as of this date, although he doesn’t know the reasons for his fast starts.

“If I knew, I’d use them in July, August and September,” said Lowell, who is a .284 career hitter before the All-Star game but just .264 after the break.

The win was the third in a row and sixth in seven games for the Red Sox, but Atlanta (26-17) recovered to take the nightcap in a 14-0 rout. Kelly Johnson had a double, triple, homer and five RBIs as the Braves amassed 17 hits—12 for extra bases—to win for only the second time in their last seven games.

“That was probably the weirdest doubleheader I’ve ever been a part of,” said Johnson, who fell a single short of the cycle. “I think we got them overall. What was it, 27-13?”

Boston, which still owns the best record in baseball and a 9 1/2-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East, suffered its worst shutout loss since 1990.

As the Red Sox save knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for Monday’s series opener against the arch-rival Yankees, left-hander Kason Gabbard is expected to be recalled from the minors in time to start Sunday’s game. Gabbard, 25, made his major league debut with the Red Sox last season and went 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA in seven appearances—four starts.

He was 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA this season in eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Hudson SF vs. K. Gabbard Bos
16-10 Record 6-1
3.33 ERA 4.65
132 K 55
53 BB 41
1.22 WHIP 1.34

Scoreboard

Sunday, May 20