With the Atlanta Braves bullpen desperately needing a break, Tim Hudson churned out a strong start into the eighth inning to win his fifth straight decision. Little did he know, it was also his 100th win as a member of the Braves as they beat the hapless Houston Astros 4-1 at Turner Field on Friday.
The win, which took place over 7 1/3 innings for Hudson, brought Hudson's record to 11-4. He gave up an unearned run on four hits and threw a season-high 116 pitches to give the Braves bullpen a breather after throwing 15 2/3 innings in their four-game series with the Miami Marlins.
"If I don't get into at least the seventh inning, I don't think I've done my job," Hudson said.
Ben Francisco scored the only Astros run of the night when he reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Dan Uggla. A pair of groundouts eventually brought him home, but that wasn't before Atlanta had done their damage with a three-run third inning.
The Braves lit up beleaguered Astros starting pitcher Armando Galarraga over 5 1/3 innings for four runs and seven walks. Galarraga's career has been going downhill since Jim Joyce blew his perfect game in 2010 when Galarraga was a member of the Detroit Tigers. Joyce was the third base umpire Friday.
A double by Martin Prado and a walk to Jason Heyward with one out in the third inning set up Chipper Jones for a two-run double, which was all Hudson needed for the win. Dan Uggla drove in Jones on a popped up double. Though still not providing exquisite production, Uggla has driven in six runs over his last six games.
Jones, meanwhile, passed Gary Sheffield for 65th on the all-time hit list to give him 2,690. Chipper has hit .357 since June 19.
"I don't think he's human," Hudson said. "He's a machine."
Jones' production has been vital to Atlanta's 15-6 record since the All-Star break, while Houston has lost 29 of their last 32 in the final year in the National League.
Prado, who sat out the series finale with Miami on Thursday, went 2-for-3 with two doubles, two walks, a run scored and an RBI. He also had words with Galarraga in what he chalked up to a misunderstanding. Prado said he thought Galarraga had said something to him just before issuing his seventh walk of the game.
"A couple of boys in the sandbox," Fredi Gonzalez said.
Prado's RBI-double in the fourth capped off the scoring for the Braves, though they very well could have run up the score. They went only 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base, three of those coming in the first inning when Galarraga walked three and gave up no runs.
After Hudson issued a walk in the eighth inning, Eric O'Flaherty recorded the final two outs before Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 31st save. Kimbrel has struck out 73 batters in 42 innings this season.
The Washington Nationals split a doubleheader with the Miami Marlins to allow the Braves to claw upwards half a game in standings. Atlanta now trails by two games in the NL East.
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