CHICAGO (AP) — Tim Hudson pitched well enough to win on most days. He allowed five hits and a run in seven innings but his Atlanta Braves teammates had even more trouble with Chicago lefty Paul Maholm.
Maholm and two relievers combined on a four-hit shutout and the Braves wasted Hudson’s strong outing, losing to the Cubs 1-0 Wednesday.
“Huddy was outstanding,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I thought we had some balls hit right at people with people in scoring position. They did a nice job defending us there.”
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Maholm (4-2) allowed three hits in seven innings and combined with James Russell and Rafael Dolis to blank the Braves in a game that took only 2 hours, 5 minutes. Maholm walked three and struck out three as Chicago took two of three from Atlanta after doing the same in the previous series against the Dodgers.
After Maholm came out to warm up for the eighth, Russell replaced him and gave up a two-out double to Martin Prado and a walk to Freddie Freeman, then retired Dan Uggla on a flyout. Dolis worked the ninth for his third save in four chances.
Hudson (1-1) gave up three hits through the first six innings and — thanks to a pair of double plays — faced the minimum 18 batters.
“It’s disappointing. I felt like we played a pretty good game. Obviously they had a guy over there who was throwing the ball pretty well, too,” Hudson said. “He made some pitches. They had some breaks with some of their defensive alignments with some guys on base. The ball was bouncing their way. Not a whole lot else you can say about it.”
Hudson made just his third start after recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back last November.
“I was making some pretty good pitches. Best I’ve felt so far this year,” he said
“My sinker felt really good. It was coming out good, it had some life to it. My other stuff, I felt like it was as good as it’s been in a while. Through this whole process it’s been gradually getting a little better.”
David DeJesus hit a leadoff single in the seventh, and Tony Campana bunted him to second and he reached third on Starlin Castro’s grounder to first. Bryan LaHair then hit a hard grounder under shortstop Jack Wilson’s glove to give the Cubs the lead.
“LaHair did a good job hitting that sinker the other way with a little shift played on him,” Hudson said. “He just played pepper with the shortstop, and that’s the ballgame.”
Prado doubled and reached third in the sixth and after Uggla walked with two outs, Chipper Jones lined out to second baseman Darwin Barney, who was positioned behind the bag at second in a defensive shift. Otherwise, it would have been a run-scoring single.
“Chipper almost hit me in the forehead and Barney caught it,” Maholm said. “It’s scary and then it’s very good.”
The defensive shifts are something Cubs manager Dale Sveum favors, saying that third base coach Pat Listach studies all the opposing hitters and their tendencies, allowing the Cubs to move defenders around by playing the percentages on which direction the ball likely will go when it comes off the bat.
“The shift won them the game today,” Jones said. “You live with it, you’re gonna die by it. It’s just unfortunate today we couldn’t really get anything going, and when we did, we hit a bullet right at somebody.”
NOTES: Atlanta’s Jones, who is retiring at the end of the season, was presented with a Braves flag before the game by Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster. … LaHair has reached base in 27 straight games dating to April 8. He also singled in the second.