Braves 7, Mets 3

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NEW YORK (AP)—Braves manager Bobby Cox is happy with what he’s seen from Tim Hudson so far this year—a lot of the same stuff, over and over again.

Hudson was downright stingy over eight shutout innings and Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer to help Atlanta beat the New York Mets 7-3 Friday night.

Hudson (3-0) allowed five hits and walked two. He has allowed two runs in 29 innings this season for a microscopic 0.62 ERA.

“Yeah, same as his other starts he’s had,” Cox said. “Just shutout stuff again. He’s been in quite the groove so far this season. What you saw tonight was what he’s done in the past starts.”

Kelly Johnson also had two hits for the Braves, who moved into first in the NL East by winning the opener of the weekend series between the top two teams in the division.

Hudson retired the first 11 batters and didn’t allow a hit until Moises Alou singled to center with one out in the fifth. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t score. They also threatened in the eighth but Hudson got Paul Lo Duca to ground into an inning-ending double play.

New York had scored 28 runs in its previous three games but couldn’t do anything with Hudson, who said he can’t remember ever getting off to a better start.

“There’s really not much of a break in that lineup,” Hudson said. “They can go up there and really hurt you. I was able to go out there and make some pitches, set a tone early. We got a nice lead early, thanks to Chipper.”

The Braves led 4-0 after three innings and scored three unearned runs in the seventh to break it open. Jeff Francoeur and pinch-hitter Craig Wilson walked with the bases loaded and Andruw Jones scored on a wild pitch for the second time in the game.

Hudson allowed a single to Shawn Green after Alou’s hit in the fifth. One batter later, pinch-hitter David Newhan walked to load the bases. Jose Reyes then hit a grounder up the middle but Johnson got to it and threw to Edgar Renteria for the forceout at second to end the threat.

“Too much Mr. Hudson tonight,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He was superb. He’s been going great all year. Maybe the next time we get him he won’t be so good.”

Johnson also got the Braves’ offense started in the first. He singled to left against Mike Pelfrey and scored when Chipper Jones hit a long home run off the bottom of an advertising sign in right-center. It was his 37th homer in 167 career games against New York and fifth in his past nine games this season.

“It was good to center that one in the first,” Jones said. “With a young guy on the mound you give him some success and let him feel comfortable early in the game, they get more and more confidence as the game goes on. It’s nice to jump out on top early.”

Chipper Jones also walked and scored on Brian McCann’s ground-rule double in the third. Andruw Jones went to third on McCann’s hit and scored on Pelfrey’s wild pitch to make it 4-0.

Pelfrey (0-1) lasted five innings, allowing four runs and six hits. He struck out three, walked two and hit a batter.

“I thought the secondary stuff was OK,” Pelfrey said. “The fastball command was kind of off. Facing Chipper Jones in the first inning, the fastball, I left it right in the middle. You don’t want to miss with that guy.”

Green hit a two-run homer in the Mets’ three-run ninth against Rafael Soriano, who got Jose Valentin to fly out to right for the final out.

David Wright went 0-for-3 with a walk for the Mets, snapping his club-record hitting streak at 26 games. Hubie Brooks (1984) and Mike Piazza (1999) share the one-season record of 24 games in a row.

“Way more disappointed in losing the game than the hitting streak,” Wright said. “It was fun while it lasted.”

The Mets honored Jackie Robinson during a pregame ceremony featuring his widow, Rachel, and his son, David. The team originally was scheduled to pay tribute to Robinson on Sunday—the 60th anniversary of Robinson breaking major league baseball’s color barrier—but the Mets game against the Washington Nationals was rained out.

Randolph wore Robinson’s No. 42 and three tribute videos were shown on the scoreboard at Shea Stadium. New York also recognized four Negro League players and Ralph Branca, who played with Robinson on the Brooklyn Dodgers, during the ceremony.

Notes

Lo Duca confronted a New York tabloid reporter before Friday’s game, apparently upset with the paper’s coverage. “Stay out of my life,” he yelled. It wasn’t immediately clear what angered him. INF Julio Franco and a member of the Mets media relations department stood between Lo Duca and the reporter until Lo Duca left the area. Lo Duca also was upset last summer when the tabloids reported about him gambling on horse races and his personal life. Lo Duca started after sitting out Thursday with a bone bruise on his right hand. … A fan sitting near the Mets dugout behind home plate was ejected from the game in the bottom of the eighth. Renteria, standing on second base, appeared to complain to umpire Paul Emmel about something the fan was doing. The Braves said afterward that the fan had some sort of laser pointer.

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