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Finally I can say it, the Braves have won! Tim Hudson pitched a masterful game as Atlanta broke their five-game slide with a 4-1 win over the Nationals. The Braves right-hander went seven strong innings, throwing only 92 pitches. Hudson allowed one run on seven hits, no walks, and nine strikeouts to pick up the win. A great indicator that he was at his best, Hudson got nine groundball outs to only three flyball outs in the game. Hudson did something a little out of the ordinary tonight. A couple times during the game he dropped his arm slot. This is something we have seen John Smoltz do a lot more recently. Smoltz's reason is that it puts less strain on his shoulder. That may be the same with Hudson who strained a muscle around his shoulder or he may just be trying to throw hitters off. Yet again tonight, the bullpen was very good. Rafael Soriano and Bob Wickman combined from two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.
Tonight was a very normal offensive night but with the play of late, it seemed like an extraordinary offensive outburst. The scoring was led by Brian McCann which is something nice to see with his struggles lately. The Braves catcher was 2/3 with a three-run homer and an RBI single. The top three in the order combined to go 5/12 with a couple runs in a new look. Kelly Johnson was dropped down to the seventh spot as his slump continues. The work he put in everyday over the off-season may be taking its toll on the young second baseman so expect to see Yunel Escobar getting more work at second against lefties to give Johnson some rest. Andruw went 0/3 today to bring his average down to .197 but it was an encouraging day overall. The two times he made contact he went to center with a pitch on the outside. Most of his struggles have come from trying to pull a ball on the outside.
The Braves continue tomorrow as Buddy Carlyle tries to secure the series win against the Nationals. This is a big start for Carlyle as it is probably his last chance to keep his spot in the rotation. The acquisition of Wil Ledezma is going to put a lot of pressure on Carlyle, who probably doesn't have any place on a major league team.