The Atlanta Braves couldn't get their bats going, and they fell 1-0 to the Chicago Cubs in the rubber match of the series on Wednesday afternoon.
Tim Hudson pitched a great game for the Braves, giving up only one run on five hits in seven innings. However, he got saddled with a tough-luck loss as Paul Maholm pitched just a little bit better for the Cubs. Maholm shut out the Braves over seven innings, only giving up three hits and three walks.
“Huddy was outstanding," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "So much that if he would have come out of the seventh inning with no runs, I was thinking about letting him hit in the eighth, because he was that dominant.”
Hudson, making his third start of the year following his back surgery, had his strongest start of the season. Unfortunately, the Braves couldn't muster much offense against Maholm. They only managed to collect four hits, two of which were doubles by Martin Prado.
“I don’t know if it just wasn’t meant for us to win today, or what," catcher David Ross said. "Frustrating day as a catcher when you’ve got a guy throwing that well and we don’t pick up a ‘w.’”
The Braves didn't have too many run-scoring opportunities, but their biggest one came in top of the sixth inning after a one-out double by Prado. With runners on first and third and two outs, Chipper Jones hit a line drive up the middle that was caught by second baseman Darwin Barney. The Cubs were using a rare shift against Jones that had Barney positioned directly behind second base.
An inning later, the shift would end up hurting the Braves on defense as well. With a runner on third and two outs, Bryan LaHair hit a ground ball to the vacated space at shortstop, scoring the lone run of the game. Without the shift, it's a routine groundout to Jack Wilson, and the inning is over.
“Yeah, the shift won them the game today," Jones said. "It lost them the game last night. So, you live with it, you’re going to die by it. Unfortunately today we couldn’t really get anything going, and when we did we hit a bullet right at somebody. But Huddy pitched good. That’s the silver lining. He seems to be back in command and we look forward to having him healthy the rest of the year.”
The Braves have a day off tomorrow as they travel to St. Louis. On Friday, Mike Minor (2-2, 5.97 ERA) will toe the rubber as he hopes to rebound from a couple of rough starts against Jaime Garcia (2-2, 3.76 ERA) and the St. Louis Cardinals at 8:15 EDT.
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