The Braves' starting pitcher Tim Hudson was decent on the mound but gold at the plate. Hudson managed his way through a tough Cardinals lineup and a bunch of seeing-eye singles to hold the Cards to just 4 runs while pitching into the sixth inning. Hudson also contributed at the plate by slugging his first career homerun in the second inning -- a 2-run shot that put the Braves ahead for good.
The Braves offense got some help from the middle of their order, as both Chipper Jones and Brian McCann had multiple hits. Someone else can look it up, but both of those guys having multiple hits in the same game hasn't happened in quite a while. Chipper wasn't so good on the bases though, as he ran himself out of a run in the fifth when he got caught in an unnecessary run down when he inexplicably stopped on his way home from third. It was a weird game for Chipper.
There were more than enough scoring opportunities early in the game for the Braves, but two double-plays killed a couple of good chances to add on. In this season for the Atlanta Braves, those kind of missed opportunities will always come back to haunt you.
Then Mike Gonzalez came on for the eighth inning, and after a lead-off walk a comedy of errors ensued. The walked batter made it to second on a wild pitch, then stole third, and scored when a line drive went off of Yunel Escobar's glove. The next batter reached on after Chipper's 21st error. Then a tailor made double play ball to Martin Prado gleaned no outs when the ball rolled out of Prado's hands to the heels of Escobar -- error on Prado. Then another double-play ball to Prado yielded only one out when Prado missed the tag on the runner advancing to second. A walk to baby-Jesus and Gonzo finally got out of the jam with a strikeout. It was Gonzo's 7th blown save (second in the NL in BLSV) -- helped by a leadoff walk. For Gonzo's sake, this was his 73rd appearance -- 19 more than any other season in his career -- and he looked visibly tired when he came into the game.
Then in the ninth inning the Braves came back thanks to the big bat of Brian McCann -- who just missed a grand slam by a couple of feet to straight-away center field. (The Braves are the only NL team to not have a grand slam this season.) That hit scored two. Nate McLouth and Martin Prado had started the inning with consecutive hits, and Chipper walks to bring McCann to the plate. Chipper came up lame on the play with what looked like a pulled hamstring and had to be pinch-run for. Still two on with no outs, we should score some more runs, right? Wrong. Anderson struck out looking, Escobar popped out, and Diaz struck out swinging. Hey, at least we got a couple of runs before their closer found his groove.
Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth and got the Cards 1-2-3. Phew, what a game. The recap was so long because I wrote the original few paragraphs thinking Gonzo and Sori would close it out (you'd think that I was drinking), then the really interesting innings happened.
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