Twins-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves finally played a game in which they didn't have to rally to win. If Tim Hudson can't put an end to his recent struggles, they may find themselves needing to overcome a deficit yet again.

Hudson will try to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time in three seasons as the Braves go for a fifth straight victory Tuesday night against the slumping Minnesota Twins.

Losers of four in a row to AL teams heading into this three-game series, the Braves (26-18) defeated the Twins 5-1 on Monday in the clubs' first meeting in Atlanta since the 1991 World Series.

Sparked by Dan Uggla's three-run homer, the Braves scored four times in the first inning to snap a string of 11 consecutive games in which they allowed the first run.

Atlanta will now try to extend its season-best five-game home winning streak with Hudson (4-3, 5.12 ERA) trying to win his fourth consecutive start at Turner Field. The right-hander, though, has lost his last two outings, yielding 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings.

He gave up five runs in five innings of a 5-3 defeat to Arizona on Wednesday.

"I feel like the results weren't like how I felt out there,'' Hudson said.

He last dropped three consecutive starts from Sept. 2-12, 2010.

That was also the last season Hudson faced Minnesota (18-23), and he's posted a 6-3 record and 2.13 ERA in 14 career starts versus the Twins.

He'll face a Minnesota team that's scored 15 times during a six-game skid. The Twins, who last dropped seven in a row during an 11-game losing streak Sept. 9-21, 2011, will give the ball to Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 6.57) on Tuesday.

Minnesota hopes to get a lengthy start from the right-hander as four of its last five starters have failed to get out of the fifth inning. Pelfrey, though, is struggling to find consistency after missing most of last season with the New York Mets due to Tommy John surgery.

The right-hander gave up five runs in four-plus innings of a 9-4 loss to Chicago White Sox on Wednesday after lasting six innings in each of his previous two outings.

"It's an ongoing process," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website. "Sometimes he gets on top and the ball is sinking good, and other times the ball is kind of flat across the zone. And when that happened, they end up making him pay for it. So we'll just keep running him out there and see if he can get better as we go along here."

Pelfrey has lost his last three starts in Atlanta with a 6.75 ERA.

Braves catcher Brian McCann, 18 for 39 with two homers and eight doubles off Pelfrey, should be back behind the plate after Gerald Laird got the start Monday.

Uggla has gone 13 for 32 (.406) against Pelfrey.

Joe Mauer, 0 for 4 in each of the last two games following a 15-game hitting streak, is 1 for 7 off Hudson. Justin Morneau is 2 for 20 in that matchup, while Josh Willingham, who snapped a 17-game home run drought in the ninth inning Monday, has one hit in 20 at-bats off Hudson.