The Atlanta Braves responded to their first loss in 10 games with a blowout win, and they can capture their fourth consecutive road series with another victory Sunday.
Tim Hudson(notes) has been doing nothing but winning lately, and the resurgent right-hander looks to win his sixth straight decision as the Braves finish their four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Atlanta’s nine-game winning streak was snapped with a 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night, but the club quickly bounced back by scoring seven runs in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 9-3 win.
“Our lineup, one through eight, can really hurt you, and everybody’s putting up consistently good ABs,” said catcher Brian McCann(notes), who had four RBIs. “When we’re doing that, there’s no easy outs in our lineup. People are drawing walks and getting on base, and we’re doing everything that we’re supposed to be doing right now.”
The first-place Braves (33-23) are a major league-best 20-5 since May 10, including nine wins in 12 road games in that stretch. They had been 5-14 away from home before that.
Their performance this weekend has been especially impressive considering the Dodgers (32-24) were also one of the hottest teams in the majors entering the series.
Los Angeles has still won 19 of 27, but manager Joe Torre’s team has struggled offensively during its current homestand, totaling 18 runs in six games.
The Dodgers likely won’t have an easy time scoring runs against Hudson (6-1, 2.30 ERA), who won his fifth consecutive decision Tuesday against Philadelphia even though his start was interrupted by a rain delay.
The 34-year-old, who missed most of 2009 following elbow surgery, returned to finish six innings, allowing two runs in Atlanta’s 7-3 victory.
“I threw two innings off the inside mound, so I actually pitched eight innings and gave up two runs,” Hudson joked. “I don’t know if they’ll factor that into my numbers or not.”
Even without those innings, Hudson’s last seven starts have been impressive. He held each opponent in that stretch to two or fewer runs, going 5-0 with a 1.77 ERA. The sinkerballer ranks second in the majors in groundball percentage at 76.7.
Rookie John Ely(notes), who will start for Los Angeles, has been equally good lately. Since giving up five runs to the Mets in his major league debut April 28, the right-hander has allowed two or fewer runs in six consecutive outings, going 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA.
Ely (3-2, 2.54) held Arizona to two hits in seven innings Tuesday, when the Dodgers needed 10 innings to defeat the Diamondbacks 1-0.
“This kid has really infused us with a little energy,” Torre said of Ely. “He doesn’t really care who he’s pitching against. He just challenges everybody, and it’s very refreshing to watch that. Everybody loves being around him.”
Ely has never faced Atlanta. Hudson began his career by winning his first five decisions against the Dodgers, but he’s 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA in three starts against Los Angeles since the start of 2007.