Even in slippery conditions, the Braves only strengthened their grip on first place against the Phillies Tuesday night.
The Braves’ personal rainmaker Troy Glaus was just buoyed by a first-inning downpour as he connected for a three-run home run that jump-started the Braves in a rain-delayed 7-3 win over the Phillies.
Behind Glaus’ second three-run homer in the past two games, the Braves clinched their first series win in three tries against the Phillies this season and assured themselves first place in the NL East win or lose Wednesday.
They had to hang on while the Phillies brought Ryan Howard to the plate with the bases loaded representing the tying run in the ninth, but Billy Wagner cleaned up what the Phillies started against Jonny Venters with a groundout.
The Braves, now 1 ½ games ahead of the Phillies, will go for a series sweep and a perfect 9-0 record in day games at Turner Field this season when they wrap up this three-game series at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday.
“Huge win for us,” said Tim Hudson who worked around a 64-minute rain delay to pitch six strong innings. “What we’ve done in the last two or three weeks has been a real testament to our character and the guts we have on this team. We had a tough go of it for a while and were able to battle through it and show everybody the kind of team we really are.”
Hudson won for the fourth time in five starts to move to 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA on the year. The lone exception was his no-decision last Thursday in Florida when his outing was halted after four innings by rain.
He tried to talk his way back into that game after a 77-minute delay, having thrown 70 pitches. This time he didn’t have to do any convincing after a short first inning.
“He only threw 11 pitches the first inning, there’s nothing wrong with bringing him back like that,” manager Bobby Cox said.
With a 3-0 lead to work with, after a couple rounds of catch and one simulated inning in the indoor cages, Hudson lasted six innings on 104 pitches, allowing two runs and beat the Phillies for the first time in 11 starts since August of 2006.
Hudson wasn’t about to miss his first opportunity at the plate, either. He extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the second.
From the mound, Hudson had only one real regret. Howard hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning -- his sixth homer in 39 at-bats against Hudson -- after Hudson thought he had him struck out on a 1-2 change-up.
The Phillies broke up a streak of 68 innings without a home run on that swing but still lost for the 10th time in 14 games.
“Obviously they’ve had their troubles over there, but we’ve had our troubles as well earlier in the season,” Hudson said. “They’re a great ball club and they’re going to get out of it, I just hope it’s not (Wednesday).”
Phillies starter Cole Hamels, meanwhile, gave up three runs in two outs and got washed out after only 24 pitches.
Just as the skies had opened up on Hamels, Glaus connected on a 2-1 change-up, sending it to the left field seats to give the Braves their second consecutive three-run first-inning lead in the series.
It was Glaus’ second consecutive three-run homer, after he launched a three-run homer in his final at-bat of Monday’s 9-3 win. With that and his first swing Tuesday, Glaus took over the Braves’ lead in RBI from Jason Heyward with 40 to Heyward’s 37, after finishing the month of May with 28 RBIs to lead the National League.
“We’re playing good, we’re winning games,” Glaus said. “That’s always fun.”
Martin Prado turned a tough double play to thwart Phillies’ comeback hopes in the seventh, taking a low throw from Chipper Jones at second and firing home nail Carlos Ruiz by a step at the plate.
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