Seeking to avoid his longest winless stretch in 11 seasons, Tim Hudson is facing a team that has never beaten him.
Hudson looks to improve to 7-0 against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night when the visiting Atlanta Braves try to even this three-game set.The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts since beating the Mets on May 5 to match his second-longest stretch without a victory. His longest was when he went 0-4 with a 5.90 ERA during an eight-start stretch from May 4-June 9, 2002, with Oakland.There is reason for optimism Tuesday since Hudson (4-5, 4.48 ERA) has posted a 2.70 ERA in 12 appearances against the Padres, with his teams winning eight of his 11 starts. San Diego, Atlanta and Houston are the only teams he has never lost to.Hudson has also been effective in his last two outings, yielding one unearned run over 14 1/3 innings."It's just staying tall over the rubber, not overthrowing and staying behind all my pitches and trusting it," Hudson told the Braves' official website. "That's what it boils down to."Hudson has limited Chase Headley to one single in 13 at-bats, but may want to be careful against Carlos Quentin, who is 3 for 6 with two homers against him.Atlanta (39-25) fell for the third time in 10 games with Monday's 7-6 defeat.Braves starters posted a 0.77 ERA over the previous five games before Julio Teheran allowed five runs in six innings Monday. Teheran had a no-hitter through 7 2/3 innings in his start before.This series was to feature baseball's top rookies in homers in Atlanta's Evan Gattis and San Diego's Jedd Gyorko.Gyorko, however, was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Monday's game with a right groin strain. He is tied for the team lead with eight homers, second among all rookies to Gattis, who hit his 14th Monday.Atlanta homered three times over the final two innings in the opener to nearly rally from a six-run deficit, with two solo homers from Jason Heyward and a three-run shot by Gattis."I'm really, really proud of this team," Heyward said. "We have a good team. We don't quit. We have a lot of fun and have a lot of pride, and that's an example of it right there."San Diego (30-34) established an early lead as Will Venable hit a three-run homer -- his eighth -- in the fourth after Logan Forsythe, activated off the 60-day disabled list earlier Monday, had a solo blast in his season debut. Then the Padres withstood a four-run ninth by the Braves."Two runs (allowed) through eight, I'll take that tomorrow," manager Bud Black said. "The ninth inning got away from us a little bit, but we had a big enough cushion."Everth Cabrera went 0 for 4 to end his career-high 10-game hitting streak in which he batted .458.The Padres' Andrew Cashner (4-3, 3.68) has never started against Atlanta or faced Gattis or Heyward, although he has held Justin Upton hitless in eight at-bats.Cashner is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in four home outings, and the right-hander has lasted at least six innings in six straight starts.
Jason Heyward launched 2 more HR on Monday, both off right-handed pitchers. What has been the key to his hot streak and, possibly, his season turnaround? He's crushing soft stuff, particularly against right pitchers.