PHOENIX (AP)—Another start at Arizona, another string of scoreless innings and a win for Atlanta right-hander Tim Hudson.
Hudson pitched eight shutout innings to lower his career ERA in Phoenix to 1.16 and the Braves beat the Diamondbacks 2-1 Sunday.
“It’s a park where you have to concentrate and keep the ball down and keep them hitting the ball on the ground,” said Hudson, who has allowed four earned runs in 31 1-3 innings over four starts in Arizona. “A sinkerball pitcher can have success here.”
Hudson (4-3) gave up six hits and three walks. He struck out five as Atlanta avoided being swept in three-game series.
The Diamondbacks finally scored a run in the ninth off Braves closer Chris Reitsma. Conor Jackson walked with one out, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Eric Byrnes’ RBI double. Macay McBride then came on to get the final out for his first save of the season.
“I can see the pressure that’s on (Reitsma),” said McBride, who had one save last season. “It’s a tough job for him. You have a lot more respect for the guys in that role when you pitch in it a couple of times a year.”
Juan Cruz (1-3) matched Hudson through six innings before the Braves broke through. Cruz walked Hudson on six pitches, Marcus Giles sacrificed the pitcher to second and Edgar Renteria lined a double to right field, scoring Hudson for a 1-0 lead.
Renteria’s hit was only the second allowed by Cruz, who retired the first 13 batters he faced. Renteria moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on an Andruw Jones groundout to make it 2-0.
“We got just enough runs,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
With the loss, the Diamondbacks fell a half-game behind Colorado in the NL West.
Arizona, which left 11 runners on base, put together one last rally against Hudson in the eighth. Chad Tracy led off with a single off Hudson’s glove and went to third on Shawn Green’s two-out bloop single to right.
But Hudson got pinch-hitter Johnny Estrada on a routine fly to center to end the threat.
“They had some opportunities and had some runners on but I made some pitches when I needed to and kept them from crossing the plate,” Hudson said.
The Diamondbacks had opportunities earlier against the right-hander, getting the leadoff hitter aboard in four of the first six innings, but couldn’t score.
“(That) has a lot to do with Hudson, too,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been pretty good about that as of late.”
In the first, Craig Counsell led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a groundball but was left there when Luis Gonzalez struck out. Cruz himself left the bases loaded in the fifth when he struck out. And Arizona got leadoff doubles from Counsell and Clark in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, but Hudson retired the next three batters in order in both innings.
Cruz, who gave up nine runs in his last start Wednesday while only getting two outs, did not allow a baserunner until issuing a one-out, four-pitch walk to Adam LaRoche in the fifth. Jeff Francoeur followed with a clean single to left for the Braves’ first hit.
“Today, I got all my pitches to work,” Cruz said. “I think I’m doing an OK job. You gotta forget about the negative thing because you don’t want to bring the negative thing to the games. You just forget what happened. It’s a new day.”
Cruz allowed two runs and two hits. He walked three and struck out seven. He needed 41 pitches to complete the first four innings but 46 to record his final six outs.
“The velocity was there right away,” Melvin said. “A lot of times you give up two hits you’re not going to lose the game.”
Renteria has a 10-game hitting streak. … Hudson’s run snapped a 14-inning Atlanta scoreless streak. … The Diamondbacks turned two double plays to set a club record with twin killings in 12 consecutive games. … Before the game, the Braves designated RHP Travis Smith for assignment and recalled C Brayan Pena from Triple-A Richmond. Smith was the losing pitcher in Saturday’s 13-0 loss to the Diamondbacks, allowing four runs—two earned—and five hits in 4 1-3 innings. … Braves C Brian McCann is day to day after leaving Saturday night’s game with a sprained left ankle suffered in a home-plate collision with Byrnes.