Tim Hudson looked sharp in his first start of 2012, going five strong and striking out six en route to a 4-3 Braves victory.
Huddy ran into a bit of trouble early when Jose Tabata scored two on a bases loaded single in the second to give the Pirates the lead, but Hudson locked in and finished the next three innings without another run. He would strike out six in his five innings of work to put in a solid line of five innings, six hits, two runs, two walks, and six strikeouts.
For the Braves, Freeman drove in a run in the third on a bases loaded sac fly, and Tyler Pastornicky added an RBI double in the fourth when Kevin Correia carelessly hung a breaking ball to the number eight hitter. Correia would lose his command in the following inning, walking in the go-ahead run with the bases loaded to give the Braves their first lead of the afternoon. Prado tacked on an insurance run with a solo shot in the seventh, which would prove to be enough to best the Bucks.
After Hudson’s five innings, Chad Durbin pitched a perfect sixth before the untouchables were called on to finish the game. O’Flaherty and Venters made quick work of the Pirates in the seventh and the eighth. Kimbrel came on to pitch in the ninth, and Jose Tabata added a one-out double to his 3 for 5 afternoon and would come in to score on a wild pitch. That’s all the Pirates would get, as Kimbrel slammed the door for his eighth save of the year and a 4-3 Braves win.
The Braves improve to 14-8, which puts them just half a game back of the division leading Nationals, who play the Dodgers later this evening. Depending on the outcome of the game, the Bravos could finish the day tied for first in the division.
The series against Pittsburgh concludes tomorrow at 7:10, as Mike Minor will face off against James McDonald. McDonald (0-1) is off to a hot start this year, allowing just seven earned runs in 22.2 innings of work for a 2.78 ERA. The Braves hope to cool him off and take the series Sunday night with Minor, who allowed three earned on six innings in his last outing against the Dodgers.