Hudson strong in Braves' win over Mets

BY foxsports • September 24, 2009

The way his Atlanta Braves are playing down the stretch, it's a wonder Bobby Cox doesn't want to stick around longer.

Tim Hudson pitched six effective innings for his second win since major elbow surgery and Atlanta beat the New York Mets 5-2 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.

Hours after announcing Cox will retire as manager following next season, the Braves won for the 11th time in 13 games. Clinging to scant playoff hopes, Atlanta began the day five games behind Colorado for the NL wild card.

"That was nice. It was a good little gift for him," Adam LaRoche said. "We've done everything we can to get back in this."

LaRoche made a gorgeous, diving play at first base to go with his three hits and two RBIs. Late substitute Kelly Johnson also knocked in two runs for the Braves, who won their seventh straight road game and finished 13-5 against New York this year by winning the final eight meetings.

It was their first sweep on the road against the Mets since July 2003 at Shea Stadium.

Cox was right in the middle of it. He came out of the dugout to argue that Garret Anderson's third-inning single off the top of the right-field fence should have been ruled a home run. Umpires conferred and upheld the call without looking at video replay.

"We've got 10 games to go and anything's possible," Cox said. "Keep winning and see what they do."

All-Star catcher Brian McCann was back in the Braves' lineup after leaving Tuesday night's game with a bruised left wrist. Third baseman Chipper Jones, however, came out in the seventh with a stiff back.

Johnson was inserted into the lineup at second base to replace Martin Prado, scratched after getting hit in the left knee with line drive during batting practice. X-rays were negative and he is day to day with a bone bruise.

Mike Pelfrey (10-12) gave up four runs - three earned - and nine hits in six innings for the feeble Mets, limping to the end of a miserable season. They've lost nine of 11 and 13 of 16.

"It's tough. It's like going to work every day and having a bad day," Pelfrey said. "I definitely need a break, a chance to clear my head and come back next year ready to go. Any way you look at it, I've had a bad year."

Hudson (2-1) allowed nine hits and two walks in his fifth start since coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery performed in August 2008. Handed a 3-0 lead in the second, the right-hander pitched out of trouble all night and threw 58 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

"I'm feeling pretty good. I don't think I'm quite 100 percent, but I feel like every time out I'm progressing really well," Hudson said. "For the first time this year we're going out there and just playing the game and just really having fun. Obviously, we know what's at stake. We understand how important it is. But I think this is as loose as we've been all year."

Luis Castillo hit an RBI single in the third and the Mets put runners on second and third with nobody out, but David Wright grounded out, Carlos Beltran struck out and Daniel Murphy bounced out.

With the bases loaded in the fourth, Castillo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"The losing is really difficult. It takes a lot out of you," manager Jerry Manuel said. "You're not playing for anything, but there is still a level of pride. You try to still give your fans hope that things will be OK."

Mike Gonzalez worked around a leadoff double in a scoreless eighth before Rafael Soriano got three outs for his 26th save.

Angel Pagan also drove in a run for New York, which was 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position. Murphy went 0 for 4 and grounded into a double play, stranding seven runners.

The 68-year-old Cox, a four-time Manager of the Year, agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2010. He will start a five-year consulting agreement to advise the team in baseball operations after he steps down as manager.

"I'll believe it when I see it," said Jones, who has played for Cox his entire career.

During an illustrious tenure on the bench, Cox has guided Atlanta to 14 consecutive postseason appearances (1991-2005) and the 1995 World Series title.

"There's no turning back now," he said. "Whatever happens next year is going to be it."

NOTES: The eight-game losing streak is New York's longest against the Braves since dropping 11 in a row from 1982-83. ... Wright played his 835th game at third base for the Mets, tying hitting coach Howard Johnson's club record.

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