Reds 3, Braves 2
ATLANTA (AP)—Cincinnati manager Dave Miley is happy he won’t have to watch Atlanta wrap up another division title.
“They’re going to clinch it,” Miley said. “I’m just glad it wasn’t against us.”
Gabe White earned his first save in over four years, preserving the Reds’ 3-2 win Thursday night and preventing the Braves from securing their 13th consecutive division championship.
Earlier, Philadelphia beat Florida 9-8 in 10 innings, reducing Atlanta’s magic number in the NL East to one.
With one out in the ninth and Cincinnati ahead 3-1, Joe Valentine walked three straight batters before giving way to White. After Chipper Jones’ sacrifice fly made it 3-2, Johnny Estrada hit a popup to second to end the game, giving White his first save since Sept. 1, 2000, when he was with Colorado.
Plastic covering over the lockers was quickly removed and cases of champagne were carted out before the Atlanta players entered the clubhouse after the game.
The Braves, who knew about the Phillies-Marlins result before their ninth-inning rally, will host Florida in a three-game series starting Friday night.
“I wouldn’t mind getting it done against the defending world champions,” Jones said.
Cincinnati rookie Luke Hudson (4-2) gave up two hits and one run with a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings.
“You never want to get clinched on,” Hudson said. “We’re playing the spoiler role right now, unfortunately. We’re not in playoff contention. All we can do is come in and try to avoid anything the opposing team is playing for.”
Hudson has not allowed an earned run in his three road starts, a streak covering 17 innings. He was making his eighth start overall.
“He had us off-balance all night,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “He looked like a veteran pitcher.”
Hudson, who made three relief appearances for the Reds in 2002 before missing the 2003 season with shoulder surgery, has won three of his last four starts. He gave up an unearned run in the first inning before shutting out the Braves for the next four.
Atlanta starter Jaret Wright (15-8) retired his first nine batters and struck out the side in the second inning—each on called third strikes. Despite being drained by flu-like symptoms, he gave up only four hits and two runs in six innings.
Atlanta took a 1-0 lead without hitting the ball out of the infield. Rafael Furcal led off with a bunt that Hudson bobbled for an error. Furcal then stole second, and Marcus Giles followed with a bunt single that moved Furcal to third. Giles stole second, and Furcal scored on Hudson’s wild pitch.
The Reds scored twice in the sixth. Felipe Lopez led off with a walk and moved to third on Sean Casey’s double that hit the wall in right-center field, just beyond the reach of right fielder J.D. Drew. A groundout by Adam Dunn drove in Lopez, and D’Angelo Jimenez scored Casey with a single to center.
Casey made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. With two outs in the bottom half, Phil Norton gave up a double to Furcal and walked Giles but struck out J.D. Drew.
Cincinnati’s Jose Acevedo gave up two-out singles to Julio Franco and Andruw Jones in the eighth inning, but Charles Thomas grounded out to end the threat. < ^Notes: CF Ryan Freel crashed into the wall in left-center field to catch a drive hit by Giles in the fifth inning. … Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, attended the game. … Freel needs five stolen bases to become the first Reds player with 40 steals since Deion Sanders had 56 in 1997.