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COL@ATL: Hudson shuts out the Rockies through seven

A recent surge has placed the Brewers squarely in contention for one of the two National League Wild Card spots with 21 games to play. After beating the Braves, 4-1, in Monday's series opener, the Brewers have won 16 of their last 21 games and are within six games of the Cardinals for the second berth.

The Brewers' sudden hot streak has come after they traded ace Zack Greinke a few days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, when many observers wrote them off for the season.

Manager Ron Roenicke said that the Brewers can use that dismissal to their advantage as they go down the stretch.

"I know everybody thinks it's 'must win' time, and it is, but we can't think that way," Roenicke said. "You need to think, 'We're playing great ball. Go out every game and try to play great ball,' and we'll take the outcome. We know where we are. We know what's in front of us, who we're playing.

"Nobody is expecting us to win. We can go out there and play loose. We know we have to win in the end, but nobody expects us to do it, so [we can] go out and play confident and loose."

The Braves, falling victim to the Brewers' loose attitude, saw their five-game winning streak snapped on Monday. They will send Tim Hudson, their ace, to the mound on Tuesday, looking to get back on track.

Hudson has lost just once in the season's second half and, in his most recent start, threw seven shutout innings in the Braves' 1-0 victory over the Rockies last Thursday. Hudson said that he was missing his best curveball against the Rockies, yet he was still dominant.

"He competed, man. He gave us everything he had," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I don't know if we could have run him back out there for another hitter. He competed, and we played some good defense behind him, which we usually do."

The Brewers will hope for better luck than the Rockies had when they send right-hander Marco Estrada to face Hudson. Estrada has not had much success against the Braves in his career. In two starts against them last season, he allowed 11 runs in 11 1/3 innings.

Estrada is coming off a tough start, on Thursday in Miami. He gave up three runs in the first inning, and the Brewers went on to lose, 6-2.

He said the 12:40 p.m. ET start time caught him by surprise.

"It was brutal," Estrada said. "I went out there, wasn't making my pitches. I felt all out of whack."

Braves: Simmons hitless in his return
The Braves activated rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the 15-day disabled list before the opening game of the three-game series. Simmons, who had been out since the All-Star break with a broken right pinkie, went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first Major League game in two months.

Simmons played in just 33 games before being injured. Now he's back with a team that is fighting for a playoff spot.

"Now is the time," Simmons said. "Now it's go time. This is where you want to be. You want to be in the race in September. And I'm excited."

Brewers: Hart sidelined with injured foot
First baseman Corey Hart missed Monday's game because of an injury to his left foot that he sustained on Sunday. Roenicke said Hart is considered day to day and that his availability for the rest of the series will be determined by his tolerance for the pain.

Hart is hitting .278 with 27 home runs, and he has been a key part of the offense that has helped the Brewers to a 16-5 record in the last three weeks, hitting .347 with a .613 slugging percentage in that stretch. He is optimistic that he will be able to return soon.

"Hopefully, it's nothing," Hart said. "The best case, they can give me a [cortisone] shot in the foot and I can play a couple of days later."

Worth noting
• The Braves, who called Milwaukee home from 1953 to 1965, are 29-19 in Milwaukee since the Brewers joined the National League in 1998.

• Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun remains one homer shy of 200 for his career. Although he is 5-for-16 lifetime against Hudson, he does not have an extra-base hit against the veteran right-hander.

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