Braves keep pressure on Phillies

September 18, 2010

Tim Hudson is back on track and that's big news for Atlanta's playoff chances.

''We were just good enough to win today. And just good enough to win is good enough for me,'' Hudson said. ''Every game that we win and every day that flips off the calendar is a day that more pressure gets on the shoulders of those teams behind us. But, having said that, we've got to go out there and make it happen.''

Holding a slim lead in the NL wild-card race, the Braves got a two-run double from Alex Gonzalez and won their second straight game at Citi Field after consecutive losses to last-place Washington. Atlanta began the day three games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.

Billy Wagner struck out all three batters he faced against his former team for his second save of the series and 35th in 42 chances this year. Atlanta goes for a three-game sweep Sunday with Derek Lowe on the mound against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.


Hudson (16-8) allowed solo homers to Jose Reyes and Luis Hernandez, who connected one pitch after breaking a bone in his right foot on a foul ball. Hernandez limped around the bases in obvious pain, then was removed from the game.

''He ran the bases like it was broken, there's no question about that,'' Hudson said. ''I can't believe he hit it, to be honest with you.''

McLouth hit a run-scoring double in the second off rookie Dillon Gee (1-1) and a solo shot in the ninth against Bobby Parnell, raising his batting average to .193.

''I can't say enough about Nate. We've been waiting for him to do this for a while. It looks like he's coming around at the right time,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

The diminutive outfielder is 11 for 33 (.333) with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs since he was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on Aug. 31.

''It clearly was the right move. It had to be done,'' McLouth said of his demotion. ''The month I was down there I worked on it hard, and it's paying off.''

Beaten by the Mets on Sept. 2 to begin his skid, Hudson went seven innings this time and yielded six hits. The sinkerballer struck out seven, walked one and induced a pair of double-play grounders, increasing his major league-leading total to 31.

''It was a battle out there,'' Hudson said. ''It wasn't a game where I felt like I went out there and had things in hand all day.''

Jonny Venters worked a scoreless eighth, also getting a double-play ball after Reyes' leadoff single.

''I was impressed with the way he went about it today,'' Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. ''I thought he held his own.''

McLouth put Atlanta ahead with an RBI double off the top of the right-field fence. Derrek Lee scored from first after reaching on a single that caromed high in the air off third base.

Reyes hit his 11th homer leading off the third.

Brian McCann doubled to start the fourth and Lee's single left runners at the corners. Gonzalez hit a one-out drive high off the wall in left, scoring both runners, and tried for third when the ball rolled away from rookie Lucas Duda. But Carlos Beltran came all the way over from center and threw out Gonzalez at third.

Hernandez fouled a ball hard off his right foot, just below his ankle guard, leading off the fifth. He yelped in anguish as he crumpled to the ground, and the game was held up for several minutes while he was tended to by a trainer.

But he stepped back up to the plate and sent the next pitch into the right-field stands for his second home run with the Mets.

That was the easy part.

After trying to run hard out of the box, Hernandez came up gimpy and took 34 seconds to hobble around the bases, according to the Fox television broadcast.

Joaquin Arias entered at second base in the sixth, and New York later announced that Hernandez broke a bone in his foot and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

It was a microcosm of the past two seasons for the injury-riddled Mets - every bit of success has come with plenty of pain.

''That's sad, because the guy's been playing good when he gets the opportunity,'' Reyes said. ''It was a little bit ugly.''

NOTES: Atlanta improved to 10-7 against the Mets, clinching the season series. Since 1998, the only time New York has won the season series against the Braves was in 2006. ... Wagner has five saves against the Mets this year. ... Braves rookie Jason Heyward has reached base safely in his last 23 games, batting .381 with 20 walks. ... Mets 3B David Wright got his first stolen base since Aug. 20.