Hudson blows lead, Braves end trip with loss

If that’s confusing, this is not: The Braves did not fare well on either trip.

Tim Hudson gave up a two-run lead against Arizona in a four-run fifth inning Wednesday, and the Diamondbacks won 5-3. The loss was the fifth in six games for the Braves, who finished 4-6 on the trip, clinging to a half-game lead over Washington in the National League East standings before the Nationals’ late game against the Dodgers.

“It’s a little frustrating,” said Hudson, who gave up eight hits and five runs in five innings and was 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in two starts on the trip. “We got a lead, was one pitch away from winning the ballgame 3-2. It was a big pitch.”

The pitch was a 2-2 cut fastball to his former Oakland Athletics teammate, Eric Chavez, with two out in the fifth.

Freddie Freeman gave the Braves a 3-1 lead with a two-run double in the top of the fifth, and in the bottom of the inning Hudson allowed a walk and consecutive one-out singles that cut the lead to 3-2. Then he struck out slugger Paul Goldschmidt and got Chavez to swing and miss on a splitter that made the count 2-2.

But Chavez got him on the next pitch, driving it to left-center to bring in both runs for a 4-3 Arizona lead. Cody Ross followed with another hit, a run-scoring single.

And that was it. The Braves, who hit plenty of balls hard, but were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, couldn’t push across any more runs and lost for the fifth time in six games. They lost the last three of a four-game series at San Francisco before Arizona, and have their first consecutive series losses of the season.

After starting the season with a 12-1 record and a 1.83 ERA, they are 10-17 with a 4.44 ERA in their past 27 games. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez grasped for positives.

“For just losing two out of three, you feel like we won a couple of those games, just the way we hit balls,” he said. “We had people on base and hit line drives right at them, and they made some plays defensively. It’s just the way the game goes sometimes, but you feel like we could have walked out of here with at least two out of three. …

“We got the lead, and we just didn’t get a shutdown inning (from Hudson). We left a bunch of people on base with the right guys at the plate and hit the ball hard.”

Freeman had three hits, three RBIs and a walk, but Brian McCann left seven runners on base. He flied out with the bases loaded to end the third inning. This after Arizona starter Ian Kennedy (1-4) gave up a pair of two-out infield singles followed by consecutive four-pitch walks, with Freeman’s walk bringing in the Braves’ first run.

McCann popped out to end the fifth, with Freeman at second and struck out with two on and one out in the seventh.

Still, the Braves had a lead halfway through the game. And they had the guy on the mound, Hudson, who’s been as close to automatic as anyone when staked to multi-run leads in the past, particularly against Arizona.

Before Wednesday, Hudson was 7-0 with a 1.33 ERA in nine career starts against the Diamondbacks, including 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA in five at Chase Field. His five earned runs in five innings Wednesday were half of his previous total in 67 2/3 innings against the Diamondbacks and one more than he allowed in 38 1/3 innings of five past starts at Chase Field.

“You obviously know you’re not out of the woods with a good hitter like Chavy coming up,” said Hudson, who is 1-3 with 7.36 ERA in five road starts, compared with 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA at home. “But I felt like I really had him where I wanted him. Maybe we went to the backdoor cutter a little too much in that at-bat. Looking back on it, we might could have wasted a pitch and then gone back to it later. But hindsight is always 20-20.

“You always look back when something doesn’t go your way and figure out what you could have done differently.”

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