Hudson struggles early in Braves' loss to Dodgers
Tim Hudson again had trouble getting through the first few innings, and former teammate Ted Lilly made it extremely difficult for the Atlanta Braves to recover.
Lilly pitched seven scoreless innings and James Loney had two RBIs, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Braves on Monday night in the opener of a 10-game California trip.
The Braves and Dodgers met for the first time since the off-season retirements of managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, who are fourth and fifth respectively on the all-time victory list and won a combined six manager of the year awards, five World Series titles and 11 pennants.
Hudson (2-2) gave up four runs and six hits in six innings and struck out four. All 13 runs allowed this season by the right-hander have come during the first three innings. In his previous start against the Dodgers on Aug. 13 in Atlanta, Hudson held them to three hits over eight innings in a 1-0 victory.
''I felt like I should have shut them down in the first inning, to be honest,'' Hudson said. ''I felt really good. I felt like I had good stuff and that I was locating pretty good. But they put together some good at-bats and found a way to push some runs across. That pitch to Loney, obviously I wish I could take that one back. It's tough for our club to rebound from a three-spot like that. Lilly pitched a good ballgame and had a nice lead to work with.''
Lilly (1-2) recorded his first victory of the season in four starts, after signing a three-year, $33 million contract in October. The 35-year-old left-hander scattered four hits, struck out six and did not allow a runner past second base.
Hudson and Lilly were teammates in Oakland for half of 2002 and all of 2003. In Game 1 of the 2002 AL division series against Minnesota, Lilly inherited a 5-4 lead from Hudson in the sixth inning and surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the Athletics' 7-5 loss.
''He's pretty crafty and he changes speeds,'' Hudson said. ''His fastball isn't as good as it used to be, but he does a good job of changing your eye level with it and mixing in some changeups, curve balls and cutters. So he's probably a much better pitcher now, as far as that goes.''
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Jason Hayward up into the second spot in the order and dropped McLouth from second to eighth as a result of his .212 average. McLouth responded with two doubles, one of which drove in the Braves' second run in the ninth against Jonathan Broxton.
Andre Ethier singled in the seventh inning against Jairo Asencio to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in the majors and one shy of his career best in 2006. He was hitless in three at-bats against Hudson, and is now 3 for 20 lifetime against the three-time All-Star.
Matt Kemp, who gave the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over St. Louis on Sunday with a walkoff two-run homer in the ninth inning, opened the scoring against Hudson with an RBI single in the first. Loney added a two-run single two batters later, after entering the game batting with a .150 average. Kemp leads the majors with a .459 average and has 13 RBIs in his first 17 games.
Jerry Sands, the Dodgers' minor league player of the year last season, made his major league debut in left field and was 1 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and two strikeouts. The 23-year-old outfielder-first baseman was a 25th-round draft pick in 2008 out of Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.
Sands hit an opposite-field double to right his first time up and heard it from the crowd of 28,292 - whose cheers quickly turned to moans when Loney was held up at third base by coach Tim Wallach.
The next time Sands came to the plate in the third, he was greeted with chants of Jer-ry! Jer-ry!'' before driving in Juan Uribe with his sac fly to right for the Dodgers' final run. Those same chants started up again when Sands came up in the sixth, and Hudson buzzed him with a first-pitch fastball that made him duck.
''He signed a ball and sent it over. It was a classy move by him and I appreciate that,'' Sands said. ''He said 'Good debut' and told me it got away from him a little bit. But I wasn't looking into it at all. I watched him growing up, so that'll definitely go in the trophy case.''
Lilly sent the Braves a message in the seventh when he threw a pitch behind McLouth and to the screen with two out and the bases empty. Both dugouts received a warning from plate umpire Laz Diaz, and McLouth doubled on the next pitch.
''I think that's just old-school. The warnings were out, no big deal,'' Gonzalez said. ''I don't think anything else will happen the rest of the series. Lilly did what he had to do, and that's it. Go out and play baseball.''
Brooks Conrad then batted for Hudson and took a called third strike, ending the seventh and stranding McLouth. Atlanta's pinch-hitters are 0 for 25, including a gave-ending strikeout by Eric Hinske while batting for Asencio.
Notes: In June 2007, Hudson was pitching for the Braves when he hit Chicago Cubs leadoff batter Alfonso Soriano in the back with a pitch in the first inning after Soriano hit three solo homers the previous day against Atlanta's Lance Cormier. Lilly started the series finale for the Cubs and plunked his third batter, Edgar Renteria, with a retaliatory pitch - precipitating a bench-clearing incident that led to Lilly's ejection. ... Cormier, who signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on Feb. 16, has allowed nine earned runs, 12 hits and four walks over seven innings in his four relief appearances.