08/11/10 7:40 PM ET
Hudson aims to add to award resume vs. Kuroda
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
When the two veterans hook up for their teams' series opener at Turner Field on Friday night, it will not only be a key matchup between two postseason contenders -- for Hudson it could be about the continuation of a late-season push for the National League Cy Young Award.
Kuroda bounced back from a subpar outing with an excellent effort in his last start, on Saturday against the Nationals. He gave up two runs on three hits over seven innings and struck out eight. Kuroda retired 17 straight and has been at his best in August throughout his career. He didn't get a decision, but his team ended up winning the game.
"He really had all of his pitches working," catcher Brad Ausmus said. "His split was really good, his sinker was moving a lot."
The same could be said for Hudson, who is, quite simply, one of the best pitchers in baseball.
In his last outing, he tossed eight scoreless innings against the Giants while surrendering only three hits and striking out six. It was his 13th win of the year, it lowered his ERA to 2.24 and it continued his current roll, in which he has given up only two runs in his last 28 2/3 innings over his past four starts. He's 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA in his past eight and is now receiving serious consideration as a Cy Young contender.
"I think anybody who competes at this level wants the ball at crunch time," Hudson said. "When it's a tight race and your team is in the lead, you want to go out there and shut the door."
The Braves will need their pitching to be sharp for the rest of the season because they lost a key component to their offense this week. All-Star third baseman Chipper Jones tore his left anterior cruciate ligament on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the season. Jones, who indicated in June that he may retire at season's end, has a .307 average and .907 OPS. He also tore the ACL in his left knee in 1994.
"Chipper is our big player," general manager Frank Wren said. "When you look at our club and you think of the Atlanta Braves, the first guy you think of is Chipper Jones. His presence in the lineup had been increasing just based on his performance the past couple of months. He was a force. We're losing a lot."
All-Star Martin Prado could eventually take Jones' role. Prado, who is recovering from a broken right pinkie, is scheduled to take batting practice on Friday.
Dodgers: Bullpen licking its wounds
Spotted a sizable lead on Thursday, the bullpen couldn't hold on in a 10-9 loss to the Phillies in the rubber game of a three-game set. Los Angeles was leading, 6-2, when left-hander Clayton Kershaw exited the game in the seventh inning, and the Dodgers added three runs in the eighth to push the margin to seven runs. But the Phillies stormed back, scoring four runs off Ronald Belisario and four more off closer Jonathan Broxton. ... Los Angeles can't get shortstop and leadoff man Rafael Furcal back soon enough. Furcal, who has been out with a stiff back, has the highest on-base percentage from the leadoff spot (.386) this year with a minimum of 200 plate appearances, according to STATS, LLC. ... Kuroda is 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA in three career starts against the Braves. In one start this year, he gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings while striking out four in a loss.
Braves: Defense needs to improve
The Braves have made 89 errors this year, the third most in the Majors. Since the All-Star break, Atlanta has made 28 errors in 26 games and gone 14-12 in those games. The Braves have also made 20 errors in their past 12 games and eight in their past three. ... Closer Billy Wagner pitched on Wednesday but did not record a strikeout. He needs six K's to tie Jesse Orosco for the most ever by a lefty reliever. Wagner has 1,163, and Orosco had 1,169 as a reliever and 10 more as a starter.
Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen has started his big league career with 6 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings over seven relief outings. Hitters are batting 4-for-22 against him, and he's struck out nine and walked two. The last Dodgers reliever to throw more than six scoreless innings to start a career was James McDonald, who threw eight scoreless innings from Sept. 17, 2008 to May 6, 2009. ... Among all Major League rookie relievers, Braves lefty Jonny Venters ranks first in ERA (1.07), holds (18) and strikeouts (62).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.