Rockies-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves are getting one more chance to capitalize on the last-place Colorado Rockies and continue pulling away with the NL's top wild-card spot.

Having Tim Hudson bounce back would surely help.

Hudson looks to recover from his first loss in two months by continuing his home dominance of the Rockies on Thursday in the finale of this four-game set.

Atlanta (77-60) holds one of the NL's two wild-card positions, and has won three of four to begin creating some breathing room.

The Braves will try to keep taking advantage of the Rockies (56-79) as the clubs conclude their season series, which Atlanta leads 5-1 after winning 6-2 in 2011.

Mike Minor kept the Braves rolling against Colorado on Wednesday, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh and ultimately combining with Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel on a two-hitter in a 1-0 win.

Hudson (13-5, 3.76 ERA), who leads Atlanta in victories, has won all four of his starts against the Rockies at Turner Field behind a 1.84 ERA. However, he struggled at Colorado on May 4, surrendering seven runs in six innings.

The right-hander enters this matchup coming off Saturday's 5-1 defeat to Philadelphia, during which he gave up five runs and nine hits with three walks in five innings. He had been 7-0 with a 3.19 ERA in 10 starts since his previous defeat July 1.

"I just wasn't very good," Hudson said. "That's probably the worst stuff I've had all year. It was a battle all the way."

The Rockies will counter with Jhoulys Chacin (2-4, 4.85), who has won two of his last three outings with a 1.50 ERA since his return from a nearly fourth-month absence due to shoulder inflammation.

The right-hander turned in his best performance yet Saturday, yielding one run and five hits in seven innings while throwing 74 pitches to beat San Diego 9-1. It was the first time a Rockies starter had gone seven innings since the team instituted its unorthodox four-man rotation with a roughly 75-pitch limit June 19.

"When you've got 75 pitches, the only thing you can do is try to throw strikes and get quick outs," Chacin said. "I was able to do that (Saturday) and that's why I was able to go seven innings.

"My arm just feels good. My body feels good. I'm throwing the ball for strikes and getting quick outs."

Chacin, though, is 0-1 with an 8.38 ERA in two starts against the Braves, walking an astounding 13 in 9 2-3 innings.

He's struggled against Freddie Freeman, who is 3 for 5 with two homers off him. The first baseman, though, is 0 for 8 with three strikeouts and four walks in this series.

Despite his recent form, Freeman is a career .370 hitter with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 14 meetings with the Rockies.

Chipper Jones, who scored Wednesday's lone run, also hits Colorado hard, batting .385 while plating 20 runs and scoring 22 over his past 26 games.