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.
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.
|April 16, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Back contusion|
|April 16, 2013||Darin Mastroianni||15-Day DL||Stress reaction in left ankle|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|May 18, 2013||Eric O'Flaherty||15-Day DL||Torn ligament, left elbow|
|May 13, 2013||B.J. Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left shoulder contusion|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|May 05, 2013||Juan Francisco||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|April 25, 2013||Luis Ayala||15-Day DL||Anxiety disorder|
|April 21, 2013||Jason Heyward||15-Day DL||Appendectomy|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Evan Gattis just keeps coming through for the Atlanta Braves .
The rookie hit a two-out, pinch-hit homer in the ninth to send the game to extra innings and Freddie Freeman won it in the 10th, sending the Braves to their fifth straight win, 5-4 over the slumping Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
Freeman blooped a two-out single off Brian Duensing (0-1) to bring home Jason Heyward , handing the Twins their seventh straight loss.
But Gattis was the talk of the clubhouse after his third pinch-hit homer of the season - and second in four days.
"I'm kind of getting used to it," he said with a shrug.
His teammates were left shaking their heads.
"It's awesome to see," said Braves starter Tim Hudson , who worked five solid innings despite a lengthy rain delay. "People around the league are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to make sure he doesn't put the ball in the seats."
Gattis, who surprisingly made the team as a non-roster player, has been a key contributor all season. He was NL rookie of the month in April, getting plenty of starts while the Braves battled a string of injuries. Now, with all the regulars healthy, he's showing what he can do off the bench. It was his ninth homer of the season, four of which have been tying or go-ahead shots in the eighth inning or later.
"I don't know how to explain it," Freeman said. "It's incomprehensible."
Duensing got the first two hitters in the 10th, but Heyward doubled off the wall in left-center. Justin Upton was intentionally walked before Freeman came through on a 3-2 pitch for his second RBI of the game.
"It wasn't the prettiest swing," Freeman said, "but it got the job done."
Gattis was looking for a pinch over the inside part of the plate.
He got just what he was looking for on an 0-1 slider from Twins closer Glen Perkins , sending a drive deep into the left-field seats.
"I was trying to hit the ball hard," Gattis said. "I don't try to hit home runs. It just happened."
Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit had RBI singles in the eighth against the depleted Atlanta bullpen, giving the Twins a 4-3 lead. They were one out away from snapping their slide, but Perkins couldn't finish the job.
"I think he guessed right," Perkins said. "You've got to make good pitches. That guy, he's up there to do one thing, and he did it."
Craig Kimbrel (1-1) worked a scoreless 10th for the win.
Brian McCann homered and drove in two runs for the Braves, while Hudson pitched around a 1-hour, 26-minute rain delay - but they were afterthoughts in light of the dramatic comeback.
The Braves bullpen, which lost two key relievers to season-ending surgeries in the past week, surrendered the lead in the eighth. Luis Avilan retired only one batter, giving up a hit and a walk.
Plouffe tied the game at 3 with a slow roller off Cory Gearrin that got through the hole between first and second. Doumit followed with another hit to right, this one much sharper, to put the Twins ahead.
"We made a nice comeback to get back in the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our bullpen did just a super job of shutting everything down."
Until the end, that is.
"A tough one," Gardenhire conceded.
Hudson gave up five hits and two runs while striking out five. He bounced back from two rough starts, having allowed 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings in losses at San Francisco and Arizona.
Anthony Swarzak pitched four solid innings in relief of Minnesota starter Mike Pelphrey, who gave up two runs in the first and was lifted after a fierce storm suddenly popped up with the Twins batting in the third. The umpires wasted no time calling for the ground crew, which struggled to get the tarp over the infield amid blinding rain and whipping winds.
Then, as the storm began to break almost as quickly as it appeared, a power surge knocked out the lights and video board at Turner Field. The board came back on in a matter of seconds, but the lights took much longer to fire back up.
Hudson was ready to go.
"That was at least Double-A lighting," he quipped. "The kids in the bushes do it. Why can't we?"
With the field fully lit, Hudson quickly gave up an RBI single to Justin Morneau , tying the game at 2.
Leading off the fourth, McCann lined a pitch off Swarzak into the right-field seats that put the Braves back on top. Anthony Varvaro threw two scoreless innings for the Braves, but a bullpen that will have to do without Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty the rest of the season couldn't hold the lead.
Turns out, that just set things up for another turn at hero by Gattis.
"When I saw him going up there to hit," said Freeman, who also had an RBI double in the first, "I had a feeling we were going to be playing a little longer."
Notes: The Twins will start RHP Samuel Deduno against the Tigers on Friday. He will take the spot previously held by LHP Pedro Hernandez , who was demoted to the minors on Monday. "He can wing it," Gardenhire said of Deduno. "You're going to get a guy who's going to put fear in people's hearts." Deduno starred for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic before sustaining a groin injury pitching in the final. He spent six weeks recovering before joining Minnesota's Triple-A team at Rochester. ... Braves RHP Jordan Walden (shoulder inflammation) played long toss before the game but isn't likely to be activated Monday, when he is eligible to come off the disabled list. Manager Fredi Gonzalez believes Walden will need a couple of minor-league starts before he returns to Atlanta.
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