Arizona (69-57) at Atlanta (75-52)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Aug 21, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Through two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Atlanta Braves have let their outstanding starting pitching lead the way while sending a message to a potential playoff opponent.

There’s no one they’d rather have on the mound trying to complete the sweep than Tim Hudson(notes).

Unbeaten in seven career starts versus Arizona, Hudson looks to improve to 7-0 in August over the past two seasons when he gets the ball in Sunday’s series finale at Turner Field.

The Diamondbacks (69-57) came into Atlanta having totaled three runs in losing the final two games of their series in Philadelphia, and they haven’t fared much better offensively against the NL East’s other postseason contender.

They couldn’t score in five innings against the struggling Derek Lowe(notes) in a 4-2 loss Friday, and didn’t fare much better Saturday. Brandon Beachy(notes) held Arizona to a run and four hits over six innings, and Dan Uggla(notes) homered twice as the Braves (75-52) cruised to an 8-1 victory.

“We’re just having a tough time,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of an offense hitting .160 during a four-game slide that’s one short of the team’s longest this season. “We’re unable to get anything going right now.”

Atlanta extended its wild-card lead over San Francisco to eight games, while the Diamondbacks stayed 2 1/2 up on the Giants in the NL West race.

“We’re playing every game with a purpose, and that’s to make the playoffs,” Beachy said. “There’s stuff on the line.”

It seems Atlanta’s cause should be helped by Hudson (12-7, 3.13 ERA) facing Arizona. He’s 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA in seven starts against the Diamondbacks, holding them to a .199 average and no homers in 52 2-3 innings.

To make matters worse for Arizona, the right-hander is 10-0 with a 2.07 ERA in 15 day starts since 2010, and he’s done his best work in August. Hudson is 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA in nine August outings the past two seasons.

That streak almost came to an end Monday. Hudson gave up four runs - two earned - and five hits over eight innings against San Francisco, but Atlanta rallied from two down with three runs in the ninth to win 5-4.

“It would have been a tough one to swallow, one of the tougher ones of the year,” Hudson told the Braves’ official website after allowing a pair of homers. “We felt like we had the game in hand. … Then I make some pitches that I thought a couple of those guys couldn’t handle, and they nuke both of them for homers.”

No current Diamondbacks player has taken Hudson deep.

Other than Freddie Freeman(notes), who homered Saturday, no Braves hitter seemed to have any idea how to get to Josh Collmenter(notes) (7-7, 3.47) when the rookie beat them 2-1 in Arizona on May 19. Collmenter pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only a single and a double to Freeman.

After rough starts against Los Angeles on July 29 and Aug. 5, Collmenter has bounced back. He limited Houston to two runs over seven innings in a 6-3 win Aug. 10, then held his own against Roy Halladay(notes) on Tuesday, allowing two runs over 6 2-3 innings as the Diamondbacks scored twice in the ninth to win 3-2.

Collmenter is 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA in nine games - five starts - during the day. The Braves’ .223 average in the afternoon ranks 29th in the major leagues, ahead of only Washington.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Collmenter Ari vs. T. Hudson SF
10-10 Record 16-10
3.38 ERA 3.22
100 K 158
28 BB 56
1.07 WHIP 1.14


Sunday, Aug 21