The Braves and the Diamondbacks entered this series tied for the National League lead in come-from-behind wins. So when they started to haggle with the lead Saturday, it figured to get interesting.
Tim Hudson lost a pair of two-run leads by the sixth inning, and reliever Jordan Walden gave up a go-ahead home run to Miguel Montero two innings later, but no matter. The Braves had the last word in a wild eighth inning for an 11-5 win.
Comeback win No. 23 for the Braves reads blowout, but that was only because the Braves poured on seven runs in the eighth inning.
Trailing 5-4 entering the eighth, the Braves tied the game on an RBI double by Jason Heyward and went ahead on some heads-up base running by Andrelton Simmons, who scored from third after left fielder Jason Kubel’s throw ticked off Eric Chavez’s glove at third base.
That was just the beginning. The Braves went through two more relievers, batted around, got either a run scored or one driven in from every hitter in the lineup and watched pinch-hitter Reed Johnson bat twice in the inning.
“We play 27 outs, and we know with our lineup that anything can happen at any time,” said B.J. Upton, who drove in a run in the eighth with his second sacrifice fly of the game. “It just seems like we’re playing better and better baseball every day, all around. And that’s kind of scary, that we’re consistently getting better. And we love it.”
The Braves had five hits in the inning, including a two-run, bases-loaded single by Brian McCann, and RBIs by Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson.
Patience at the plate helped the Braves take an early 4-2 lead, and it helped them reclaim it once and for all. Both Johnson and Simmons were hit by pitches to start the eighth, which gave the Braves three hit batsmen in the game. The Braves also finished with seven walks, including a bases-loaded walk by Uggla in the fifth inning.
“We’re a lineup that strikes out a lot,” Uggla said. “They’re going to try and get us to chase. But we also have a lot of big-time players in here that know how to work counts and know how to work walks.”
The seven-run outburst helped get Hudson off the hook, and he deserved it. The Braves gave Hudson four total runs of support over his previous six starts. The four runs they got for him Saturday weren’t enough to snap his winless streak, which covers eight starts since his last win over the Mets on May 5.
Hudson squandered leads of 2-0 in the third and 4-2 in the fifth, but after failing to win for two months, Hudson was upset he didn’t have a chance to complete the sixth inning and figure into the decision.
Hudson had lost his 2-0 lead on back-to-back run-scoring hits from Miguel Montero and Kubel in the fourth inning. Then with a 4-2 lead in the sixth, Hudson gave up a two-run home run to A.J. Pollock on a cutter away, his 100th and final pitch. Then Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez came for the ball and brought in Alex Wood.
“I would’ve liked the opportunity to have a decision,” Hudson said afterward. “A hundred pitches — for me that’s not really a magic number to take you out of the game. You work real hard the whole game, and it’s one pitch that a guy puts a good swing, on a pitch away, and ties the game up. I guess you need 16 years in the big leagues to get that chance.”
Hudson, now in his 15th season, is still 4-7 on the season.