03/31/08 12:15 AM ET
Opening Night heartbreaker for Braves
Hudson's gem receives little support; late comeback spoiled
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"We made some mental mistakes on the bases and we just didn't hit," McCann said. "Huddy gave us a great chance to win."Hudson surrendered just two earned runs and three hits in seven innings. While impressive, the line doesn't tell how dominant he truly was. After a 29-pitch first inning in which he was one strike away from escaping unscathed, Hudson retired 18 straight batters and needed a total of just 49 pitches to do so. "[Hudson] couldn't pitch any better tonight," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He didn't have any luck in the first inning." Cristian Guzman singled to begin the first against Hudson and then raced to third base when an errant pickoff attempt found its way into right field. After registering two strikeouts and getting ahead of Nick Johnson with an 0-2 count, it looked like the veteran hurler might escape. But Johnson fisted a broken-bat double into shallow right field and then raced home when Austin Kearns followed with a single. Hudson then retired 19 straight batters and was only spared a loss after the Nationals got a taste of bad luck in the ninth inning. "We had a chance there at the end, when we tied it up with a little luck going our way," Hudson said. "But you've just got to give them credit. We rallied late, but we couldn't quite get enough there at the end." If an opposing player was going to hit the first homer in the history of Nationals Park, it made sense that Jones took care of the honors. His fourth-inning shot marked the 12th homer that he's hit against the Nationals since the start of the 2006 season. His seven homers against the Phillies stands as the second-highest total he's hit against an opposing team during that span. "It's kind of a cool little sidebar," Jones said. "But I'm not overly gushing about it right now." Obviously, there wasn't any reason for the Braves to be gushing after beginning the season with this sort of disheartening loss. There will sure to be others during the course of the season and on those occasions when nothing seemingly goes their way, they may once again wonder if destiny had played a part. "Sometimes it's just not meant to be," Francoeur said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.