Hudson, Braves stay hot, beat reeling Astros

ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Prado wasn’t surprised to see
Tim Hudson treating the last-place Houston Astros like a playoff
opponent.

“Every time he pitches, we expect that from
him,” Prado said. “He was so fired up, it was sort of
contagious.”

Hudson gave up only four hits and no
earned runs in 7 1-3 innings to remain unbeaten in his career against
Houston, and the Braves stayed hot with a 4-1 win Friday night that left
the Astros with their worst 32-game stretch in franchise
history.

The Astros are 3-29 in their last 32 games.
Houston’s worst 32-game stretch before the 2012 season was 5-27, most
recently from June 26 to July 29, 1962 as the Colt .45s, according to
STATS LLC.

“It’s not a lot of fun, honestly,” Houston
outfielder Jordan Schafer said. “The reason you play the game is to
win. When you just continue to lose and you lose in different ways, you
lose by 10, you lose by four, you lose by 15, you lose by one, it’s all
the same. It gets tiring and annoying after a while. It’s not a fun
situation to be in.”

The Braves improved to 7-1 on
their 10-game homestand and gained ground in the NL East. Atlanta trails
first-place Washington by 2 games in the division after the Nationals
split a doubleheader with Miami on Friday.

Hudson
(11-4) improved to 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in seven career starts against
the Astros. He allowed one unearned run, four hits and two walks and has
won five straight decisions.

Hudson, 192-101
overall, earned his 100th win with the Braves. He won 92 games with
Oakland.

The right-hander gave Atlanta’s bullpen a
needed break by throwing a season-high 116
pitches.

“I’m glad I was able to go out there and
pitch into the eighth and get my pitch count up a little bit,” Hudson
said.

Hudson said he was aware some Atlanta relievers
needed a day off.

“Most every game I try to go as
deep as I can anyway,” he said.

Chipper Jones had a
two-run double in Atlanta’s three-run third inning. The 40-year-old
Jones is batting .357 (40-for-112) with 19 extra-base hits and 23 RBIs
since June 19, lifting his average to .315.

“I don’t
think he’s human,” Hudson said of Jones. “He’s a
machine.”

Prado had two doubles, including a
run-scoring hit in the fourth.

Craig Kimbrel struck
out the side in the ninth to earn his 31st
save.

Right-hander Armando Galarraga (0-1) gave up
four runs, five hits and a career-high seven walks in 5 1-3 innings. He
made his second start with Houston following his recall from Triple-A
Oklahoma City on July 28.

Jones’ third-inning double
drove in Prado, who doubled, and Jason Heyward, who walked. Jones scored
when shortstop Marwin Gonzalez lost Dan Uggla’s high popup, which
dropped in shallow left field for a double.

Prado’s
RBI double in the fourth gave Atlanta a 4-0 lead.

The
Astros scored an unearned run off Hudson in the sixth. Ben Francisco
had an infield hit and moved to second on Uggla’s throwing error.
Francisco scored from third on a groundout by J.D.
Martinez.

Tensions rose in the sixth inning as
Galarraga and Prado exchanged stares as each backed away during a long
at-bat. Prado and catcher Carlos Corporan exchanged words, prompting
Michael Bourn, who was on first base following a walk, and first-base
coach Terry Pendleton to take a few steps toward the mound. Umpires
stepped in to prevent an altercation.

“It was a
misunderstanding,” Prado said, adding he “heard something I probably
didn’t understand.”

Galarraga walked Prado on the
next pitch and was pulled from the game.

Jim Joyce,
who had the blown call that prevented Galarraga from recording a perfect
game with the Tigers on June 1, 2010, was the third-base
umpire.

Right-hander Mickey Storey recorded two outs
in his major league debut following his call-up earlier Friday from
Oklahoma City.

Schafer had one hit in his first
return to Atlanta since his July 31, 2011 trade from the
Braves.

Steve Pearce was scratched from Houston’s
original starting lineup due to a stiff neck. Francisco replaced Pearce
in right field.

NOTES: Houston
placed RHP Francisco Cordero on the 15-day DL with an inflamed right big
toe. Cordero, who came to Houston on July 20 in a trade with Toronto,
is 0-3 with a 19.80 ERA and three blown saves in six games with the
Astros. Overall, he has a 7.55 ERA. Manager Brad Mills said RHP Wilton
Lopez has assumed the closer’s role. … RHP Chris Devenski is the
player to be named later in the trade that sent Brett Myers to the White
Sox. Devenski was with Class A Kannapolis this year. … The Astros
acquired RHP Garrett Mock from the Red Sox for future considerations.
Mock will report to Triple-A Oklahoma City. … Braves SS Andrelton
Simmons had the cast removed from his right hand. He is on the 15-day DL
with a broken right little finger and is expected to return in late
August. … LHP Paul Maholm, acquired from the Cubs on Monday night,
will make his first start for the Braves on Saturday night against
Astros RHP Lucas Harrell.