Philadelphia – Just when Wednesday looked like a nightmare game for Tim Hudson, somebody who knows a thing or two about those lately turned it into something else.
Dan Uggla did in two nights in this series against the Phillies what he couldn’t do for the past two months for the Braves and that’s make an impact. He cleared the bases with a bases-loaded double in the seventh to wipe Hudson’s slate clean and send the Braves to a 12-6 victory.
“I’ve been scuffling for way too long,” said Uggla, who’d hit .127 in his past 50 games entering this series. “I’ve been lucky my teammates have picked me up and now it’s my turn to let them breathe a little easier. It’s something I take pride in, and it’s time to get going.”
Uggla helped salvage the series 2-1 for the Braves and some sanity for Hudson, who’d watched a 6-1 lead disappear in a five-run fifth inning. The Braves are 9-3 against the Phillies for the season.
Uggla went 3-for-4, after going 2-for-4 Monday night for his first consecutive multi-hit games since May 11 and 12. Manager Fredi Gonzalez had held Uggla out Tuesday night against Phillies ace Cole Hamels, so as not to “mess him up.” It looked like the right move, as Uggla now has 11 RBIs in his past 10 games.
“We’ve seen him,” said Gonzalez, who’s managed Uggla for six years including four with the Marlins. “You know the animal. You know that he’s going to go through these things, and you’ve got to be patient with him and let him go through some stuff.”
Michael Bourn went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs. He also made a great catch at the center field wall to rob Erik Kratz and put a merciful end to the fifth inning.
Ryan Howard isn’t supposed to be the same player, coming back from his Achilles surgery, and the Phillies not the same team, in last-place in the NL East and re-tooling after five straight division titles.
But that’s not how it was looking in Hudson’s recurring nightmare, where Howard swings for the fences and breaks out in a trot. True to form, Howard tied the game 6-6 with a three-run homer for his seventh home run in 59 career at-bats against Hudson, raising his career average against him to .344.
Hudson allowed a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins in the first inning but little else until Kevin Frandsen singled for the first of three straight hits in the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Rollins and Domonic Brown made it 6-3. Hudson then hit Chase Utley with a pitch and lost Howard on a 2-2 sinker over the plate.
“I went about four innings where I hardly missed a spot to a 25-pitch stretch where I don’t know that I really hit one,” Hudson said.
Hudson gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings, lasting only one inning longer than Kyle Kendrick, the Phillies starter he helped chase after 3 1/3 innings with a two-run double in the second inning.
Hudson has given up five or more runs in five starts this year, and typically the problem comes in one inning. Hudson said his problem Wednesday was commanding his pitches from the stretch.
“I need to clean up a few things in my delivery in the stretch,” he said. “I think that’s the root of the problem.”
At the plate, Hudson has five hits in his past six starts (5-for-11), which gave him something to celebrate, along with his batterymate David Ross, who stole the first base of his major league career 636 games into it.