Scoring barrage aids Hudson in finale
Braves notch runs in each of the first seven innings
PHOENIX -- Even though it ended in the same celebratory fashion that it started, this was a seven-game road trip the Braves would like to forget. Nevertheless, there was still plenty of reason for Chipper Jones and his teammates to enjoy their charter flight back to Atlanta on Sunday night.
Within the next two days, there's a chance the Atlanta lineup will get a major upgrade via the possible acquisition of Texas' Mark Teixeira. But while generating plenty of support for Tim Hudson in Sunday afternoon's 14-0 win over the Diamondbacks, the Braves provided a reminder that their offense isn't truly a liability.
"It was much needed to say the least," said Chipper Jones, whose season-high, five-RBI performance helped the Braves snap a four-game losing streak. "It puts a nice tidy bow on a bad couple of days."
After winning the first two games of this road trip, the Braves struggled through this four-game losing streak, which included consecutive extra-inning losses to the Diamondbacks, who entered Saturday with an eight-game winning streak. Most of the resulting frustration was relieved at the expense of Diamondbacks starter Livan Hernandez, who allowed eight earned runs and eight hits in just four innings.
"We're aware of our success against Livan," Jones said of Hernandez, who has gone 3-15 with in 23 career starts against the Braves and posted a 6.42 ERA in his past 17 outings against them.
While Hernandez was allowing the Braves to begin a streak in which they scored at least one run in each of the first seven innings, Hudson was proving his past statistics against the Diamondbacks also weren't a fluke. After scattering three hits over seven scoreless innings, he found himself able to enjoy winning a fifth consecutive decision for the first time since 2003.
"Huddy came through again," Cox said of his right-hander who has gone 7-0 with a 1.74 ERA in the 10 games that he's started following a Braves loss.
When Andruw Jones drilled a two-run homer to cap a three-run first, Hudson found himself in a comfort level that was only enhanced one inning later, when Chipper Jones drilled a two-out, three-run double.
"When you give Huddy three runs in the first, you feel awfully good about things," said Chipper Jones, who matched his career-best five RBI total with just one official at-bat. The veteran third baseman, who has hit batted .384 since coming off the disabled list on June 13, had sacrifice flies in both the first and fourth innings.
By the time Julio Franco capped his two-hit game with a third-inning RBI single, Hudson found himself a seemingly certain lock for victory. In six career starts against the Diamondbacks, he's 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA. In five career starts at Chase Field, he's 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA.
"I've always enjoyed pitching in domes or covered stadiums," said Hudson, who while pitching seven innings and allowing one earned run or less in each of his past five wins, has proven he's back in one of those zones where he can pitch about anywhere and find success.
This marked the third time in the past 11 games that the Braves have produced a double-digit run total. The recent frustrations they'd experienced while dropping nine of their previous 13 games were primarily a result of some shoddy relief work provided by a tired bullpen.
Having lost three of the four extra-inning contests they'd played in a seven-game stretch, Cox entered Sunday determined only to use Jose Ascanio and Bob Wickman out of his bullpen. Thanks to Hudson, who retired the final 11 batters he faced and prevented a Diamondback from reach second base after the first inning, the veteran skipper was able to rest many of his relievers, namely Peter Moylan and Tyler Yates, who will be among the many Braves taking advantage of Monday's scheduled offday.
"I really, honestly, in good judgement couldn't use them," said Cox, who'd seen his bullpen charged with the loss in five of the team's previous seven setbacks.
By the time the bottom of the fifth arrived, Cox began emptying his bench in an attempt to give the Jones boys and Edgar Renteria some rest. This provided opportunities for Yunel Escobar and Scott Thorman, who helped continue the offensive barrage with hits in their only two at-bats.
Thorman, who entered the game hitting .195 in his previous 200 at-bats, began the seventh inning with a homer and then capped his first multi-hit game since June 18 with a ninth-inning single.
"Obviously today was a big game and everybody came to play," Hudson said. "You could tell from the first pitch on, the guys were going out there and playing and doing whatever to win a ballgame."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.