Tim Hudson threw 7 masterful innings and also scored the go-ahead run as the Braves avoided losing a series for the 12th consecutive time. The Braves have now successfully tied or won every series since May 7-9, going 26-10 over that span (.722 winning percentage). Hudson allowed 8 base runners and struck out 5 but allowed just 1 run to score. He forced the Rays to hit weak grounders constantly throughout his 7 innings of work and got out of a jam very smoothly in the bottom half of his final inning. With men on first and second with 2 outs, he forced Willy Aybar to ground out to Martin Prado to end the inning and his outing. Hudson handed it over to Jonny Venters and Billy Wagner, who successfully finished the game and allowed just 1 base runner between them while striking out 2. It was Wagner's 12th save of the season, putting him just 4 away from 400 career saves.
The story of the rubber game between the top team in the AL and the top team in the NL was pitching. James Shields was very impressive as well, allowing 6 base runners, striking out 3, and allowing 3 runs over 6 innings. But as good as Shields was, Hudson was just that much better.
In the 3rd inning, Carl Crawford used his incredible speed to score the Rays first run. He walked and stole 2nd, then was running on a Carlos Pena grounder and scored on an infield single. Prado fielded the grounder to his right and almost made an amazing play to get Pena out and strand the runner, but the throw was just a bit too difficult to make in time. Crawford looked to be on his way to having a similar inning as he walked and attempted to steal 2nd in the top of the 6th but was caught by a very good throw from McCann.
Jason Heyward tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the 4th with his 11th home run of the season . At the time, it was just the Braves second hit.
Locked in a duel with Shields through five innings, Hudson got the Braves offense started with a leadoff single in the bottom of the 6th. Martin Prado then pulled a ball past the shortstop to make it 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Brooks Conrad moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, putting men on 2nd and 3rd for Jason Heyward. Shields threw a nasty changeup to strike Heyward out and subsequently intentionality walked Brian McCann. With the bases loaded and 2 men out, Troy Glaus came up and lofted a ball just out of the reach of the right fielder Ben Zobrist for a double, plating Hudson and Prado and putting the Braves ahead for good.
Altogether there were just 9 hits combined throughout the game. Fortunately for the Braves, 3 of their 5 came in the 6th inning.
Up next is a 3 game set vs. the Kansas City Royals. The series starts tomorrow at 7:35pm EST with Brian Bannister (6-4, 5.40 ERA) opposing Derek Lowe (8-5, 4.81 ERA).