Tampa Bay (41-24) at Atlanta (38-28)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 37° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu Jun 17, 2010
  • TV: SUN, PTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Since joining the Atlanta Braves in 2005, Tim Hudson(notes) hasn’t had much luck against AL opponents. However, he has enjoyed plenty of success against the Tampa Bay Rays during his career.

Hudson will try to help the NL East-leading Braves win their fourth straight series at Turner Field and their fourth game in their last five Thursday night when they conclude their three-game set versus the Rays.

Since Atlanta (38-28) acquired him from Oakland prior to the 2005 season, Hudson (6-2, 2.43 ERA) is 1-12 with a 6.78 ERA in 15 interleague starts. He is 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 10 starts versus the Rays, though his last outing against them in 2004, while with the Athletics.

The current Rays (41-24) figure to present a stiffer challenge. The 1998 expansion franchise failed to win 70 games in any of its first 10 seasons, but is now a formidable contender with an AL pennant (2008) on its resume and a share of the AL East lead along with the New York Yankees.

Hudson pitched effectively at AL foe Minnesota on Friday, giving up two runs over a season high-tying eight innings, but wound up on the short end of a 2-1 score and suffered his first loss since April 21.

“It’s tough to swallow, but these are games that happen every now and then,” Hudson told the Braves’ official website.

The lack of help from his lineup was a rarity for Hudson, whose 6.12 run support average ranks among the NL leaders.

The right-hander, who has a 1.74 ERA while winning his last three starts at Turner Field, could get plenty of run support the way the Braves have been hitting.

Led by Martin Prado’s(notes) major league-leading 13th three-hit game of the season Wednesday, the Braves tagged Rays pitching for 13 hits for the second straight night, evening this series with a 6-2 victory after falling 10-4 in Monday’s opener.

“Good night with the lumber,” said manager Bobby Cox, whose team is batting .353 with five homers in the last three games.

Prado, who is 11 for 19 in his last four games, is tied for the major league lead with 95 hits and second in the NL with a .338 average.

“First of all, you’ve got to be patient,” he said. “Just hit it somewhere. No secret.”

First baseman Troy Glaus(notes) is batting .329 with seven homers and 24 RBIs over his last 21 games and leads the NL with 42 RBIs since May 1, but is 0 for 7 lifetime against probable Tampa Bay starter James Shields(notes) (5-5, 4.55).

Facing the Braves for the first time, the Rays right-hander will try to avoid losing five consecutive starts for the first time in his career.

He allowed a career high-tying 10 runs and nine hits in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of Friday’s 14-9 loss to Florida.

“I’ve got to do something,” Shields, who has an 8.37 ERA and .337 opponent batting average during his four-start losing streak, told the Rays’ official website. “It’s unacceptable the way I’m pitching right now. I’m letting my team down and not giving them a chance to win.”

The Rays are a major league-best 23-9 on the road, but the Braves have won 10 of 11 at Turner Field.

Atlanta has won 39 consecutive games when it scores at least five runs.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Shields SD vs. T. Hudson SF
13-15 Record 17-9
5.18 ERA 2.83
187 K 139
51 BB 74
1.46 WHIP 1.15

Scoreboard

Thursday, Jun 17