All it took for the New York Mets to ruin Chipper Jones Day for the Atlanta Braves was one pitch off the bat of Lucas Duda. The 3-1 loss halted the Braves' five-game winning streak on the day they honored their legendary third baseman in front of a sellout crowd at Turner Field.
Tim Hudson was working on a shutout in the seventh inning with runners on the corners and two outs. Hudson went from a 1-2 count to a full count on Duda, when Duda turned on a sinker to blast a three-run home run to provide the Mets with their only runs of the night.
"It's frustrating," Hudson said. "One pitch pretty much put a damper on the night. I didn't make a very good pitch right there, and it cost us the game."
Hudson had smooth sailing through the first six innings until giving up a lead-off double to Daniel Murphy in the seventh. David Wright then shot a liner to right that Jason Heyward caught while diving fully extended, moving Murphy to third base. Hudson intentionally walked the powerful Ike Davis in order to strike out Scott Hairston.
That set up Hudson's lost battle with Duda. Hudson's three runs over seven innings are far from awful, and the sinkerballer struck out four and induced 10 groundouts, but Hudson dwelled on the one mistake to Duda.
"I feel like I threw the ball really well tonight," Hudson said. "Really, just one pitch cost us the game. Very rarely do you feel like just one pitch cost you the game, but tonight it was one pitch."
It would have helped Hudson's cause if the Braves had done anything against Mets starter Jon Niese. The only run Niese gave up over his seven innings was a towering solo home run by Freddie Freeman in the fourth, but no other Brave even reached second base while Niese scattered a total of four Atlanta hits.
The crowd of 51,910 at Tuner Field was the largest of the season and seventh largest in the Ted's history. A stirring tribute was directed toward Chipper's career before the game with intermittent video tributes throughout the game. Jones said it was difficult to keep focus and play through incessantly tearing up.
"I even said to [Mets catcher] Josh Thole when I stepped into the box one time, 'How in the heck am I supposed to hit with all of this going on?'" Jones said. "It got to me."
Jones usually has a penchant for producing in big games, but after fielding a tricky hop on a groundball in the first inning, the third baseman grounded out four times.
"It's hard to feel bad about the loss when everybody showed me such a great day," Jones said. "I wish we had played better. I wish I had played better. But that's baseball."
The Braves also missed a perfect opportunity to narrow the lead held by the Washington Nationals, who lost Friday night to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves remain four games back in the NL East and the Nationals' magic number is two.
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