The Atlanta Braves are going with a six-man rotation for the remainder of the month, and manager Fredi Gonzalez said seniority will have no bearing when picking his five starters for September. If that is truly the case, Tim Hudson may need to rebound quickly from a subpar showing.
Facing the San Diego Padres should help.
Hudson looks to continue his stellar pitching against the Padres and help the Braves avoid losing their third game in a row Tuesday night at Turner Field.
Prior to Monday's series opener, Gonzalez said with Tommy Hanson slated to come off the disabled list Friday and the team getting solid outings from Paul Maholm , Ben Sheets and Kris Medlen , NL wild card-leading Atlanta (66-49) will use six starters for the rest of August to determine who should stay in the rotation for the playoff drive."We need to be able to go into September with all of the cylinders hitting and everybody healthy," Gonzalez said. "This is one way to keep those guys healthy."
Mike Minor put together a respectable audition Monday, yielding three runs and scattering nine hits in six innings, but Atlanta managed only five hits in a 4-1 loss. It was the second defeat in as many days for the Braves, who had won 14 of 17.
It seems unlikely Hudson (11-4, 3.77 ERA) would be the one to get demoted, but he did little to help his cause last week.
Against Philadelphia on Wednesday, Hudson allowed a run and two hits through four innings before unraveling. He couldn't protect a five-run lead, getting touched up for five runs in the fifth before exiting with one out in that frame for his second-shortest outing of the season. It was the sixth time he allowed at least four runs in an inning this year.
By contrast, Hudson has permitted four total runs in his last four games against San Diego. He is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his last six starts versus the Padres.
Despite Hudson's shaky outing against the Phillies, Atlanta rallied for a 12-6 victory. The Braves have won Hudson's last seven starts, and the right-hander had a 2.58 ERA in the previous six.
San Diego (52-65) has won seven of eight overall, with Chase Headley carrying the offense.
Headley homered and drove in two runs Monday, and is batting .348 this month with major league highs of seven home runs and 21 RBIs. He is 1 for 11 lifetime against Hudson, though.
While Hudson has typically shut down the Padres, San Diego's Clayton Richard (9-11, 3.79) hasn't enjoyed the same success versus the Braves.
Richard has lost all four of his career starts against Atlanta while posting a 7.36 ERA. Three of those outings have come at Turner Field, where he has an 8.31 ERA and .413 opponent batting average.
Although Richard has had little luck in this series, he's been pitching quite well lately. He tossed a five-hitter in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, improving to 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts. The left-hander, who pitched into the ninth inning for the third time in eight outings, held the Cubs to five singles while striking out five, walking one and hitting a batter.
"I'm glad to get that opportunity to finish it out," said Richard, whose only other shutout came in September 2010.
|San Diego Padres|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|July 28, 2012||Joe Thatcher||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|July 26, 2012||Joe Thatcher||15-Day DL||Right knee tendinitis|
|July 18, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|July 04, 2012||Andrew Cashner||15-Day DL||Strained muscle in right side|
|August 10, 2012||Chipper Jones||Day-to-Day||Back tightness|
|August 01, 2012||Jair Jurrjens||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|July 31, 2012||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 20, 2012||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Right thumb contusion|
|July 14, 2012||Jack Wilson||15-Day DL||Dislocated right pinkie finger|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Tim Hudson said August is the right time to make a move.
Then the Atlanta Braves right-hander went out and backed up his words.
After two straight losses, the Braves were heading in the wrong direction in the NL East, and found themselves further behind the first-place Washington Nationals in almost six weeks.
Hudson ended the short skid, combining with three relievers for a five-hit shutout, and the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 6-0 on Tuesday night.
Martin Prado hit a three-run homer, and Dan Uggla also homered for Atlanta.
"There's no one else I'd rather have out there than Huddy," Uggla said. "Anytime we put him out there in a situation where we need a win, he's going to come through."
Hudson (12-4) allowed two hits and one walk in 6 2-3 innings and won his sixth straight decision.
"I saw him early in the Oakland A's days, and that's as good as I've seen him," said Padres manager Bud Black , referring to Hudson's first six seasons in the majors.
"He was on. No doubt," Black said. "He was hitting the corners, changing speeds. Got his grounders. ... This game was all about Hudson."
The Braves began the day 5 1/2 games behind first-place Washington, their biggest deficit since trailing by 6 games on July 5.
Atlanta got back within 4 1-2 games when Washington lost 6-1 at San Francisco later Tuesday.
"It's not a huge focus, but I would lie to you if I told you I did not keep up with what they're doing," Hudson said of the Nationals. "I keep up with the wild-card teams, as well."
The Braves are first in the wild-card standings.
Jonny Venters , Luis Avilan and Craig Kimbrel completed the shutout.
Yonder Alonso led off the ninth with a single off Kimbrel, but he was stranded at third base when Cameron Maybin took a called third strike to end the game.
After being held to five hits in a 4-1 loss to Eric Stults and the Padres on Monday night, the Braves had 10 hits and broke open a close game with Prado's seventh-inning homer.
Clayton Richard (9-12) left the game trailing 3-0 after giving up two hits in the seventh. Prado hit a 3-2 pitch from right-hander Brad Boxberger over the center field wall, pushing the lead to 6-0. It was Prado's sixth homer of the season and first since June 20.
Richard allowed five runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Padres lost for only the third time in 11 games.
"A few pitches away from pitching well, I think," Richard said.
And having a tough assignment against Hudson didn't help, either.
"You know you have to really be on your game," Richard said.
San Diego's only baserunner through four innings came on Chase Headley 's first-inning walk. The Padres' first hit off Hudson was Mark Kotsay 's single to left field leading off the fifth. Hudson retired the next seven batters.
Hudson rebounded from his previous start when he gave up a season-high six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a no-decision at Philadelphia.
Richard, coming off a 2-0 win over the Cubs, gave up a run in the first. Michael Bourn led off with a triple and scored on Freddie Freeman 's groundout.
Uggla's homer to lead off the fifth pushed the lead to 2-0. The Braves added a run in the sixth on three straight singles by Prado, Freeman and Chipper Jones .
Hudson was pulled after giving up a one-out single to Alonso in the seventh.
Padres left-hander Tom Layne, called up from Double-A San Antonio before the game, struck out Brian McCann , Uggla and pinch-hitter Tyler Pastornicky in a perfect eighth inning in his major league debut.
"It was kind of an epic debut by him," Padres catcher John Baker said of Layne.
Layne started the inning by striking out McCann on three pitches.
"I had a lot of fun today," Layne said. "It was cool. It was surreal.
"I don't know that I've ever struck out the side before."
NOTES: Padres LHP Alex Hinshaw was designated for assignment. ... C Yasmani Grandal , on the 15-day DL with a strained right oblique, took batting practice with the Padres before flying to San Diego on Tuesday night. Grandal will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday with Class A Lake Elsinore. ... Kotsay will receive $1.3 million in 2013 under his new deal with the Padres, agreed to last week. ... Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca's son Matt performed the national anthem on his violin. ... Braves OF Matt Diaz , on the DL since July 21, will have surgery on his injured right thumb on Wednesday. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season. ... Braves LHP Paul Maholm will face Padres RHP Edinson Volquez when the four-game series continues on Wednesday night.