Tommy Hanson showed why he is one of the top young pitchers in baseball by throwing 7 shutout innings against one of the top offenses in all of baseball. Through the first 5 innings the only base runner the Rays had was via a Carlos Pena bunt single due to an over-shift. The only small bit of trouble Hanson saw was in the sixth inning when John Jaso doubled following a Hank Blalock single. With Carl Crawford up, Blalock tried to score on a wild pitch by Hanson but was ruled out at home on a close call. Tommy then walked Crawford who subsequently stole his 23rd base, but Hanson was able to get the dangerous Evan Longoria to fly out to center to end the inning. Hanson struck out 6 batters over the course of the night and the walk to Crawford was the only one he issued.
The Rays' starting pitcher Wade Davis pitched effectively as well, throwing 5 innings while striking out 5 and walking none, but the Braves got to him in the third inning. With 1 out and Martin Prado on third and Jason Heyward on first, Davis struck out Chipper to put the pressure on Brian McCann. McCann delivered with a double to deep right which scored Prado. Troy Glaus followed McCann's double with a single to center and Heyward and McCann came across to make the score 3-0.
Eric Hinske hit his fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth, and Melky Cabrera and Prado each had RBI singles in the bottom of the eighth. Prado continued to stay hot and is now 16-for-27 in his past 6 games. Yunel Escobar also kept his bat going as he had 2 hits including a double. Escobar now has 2 hits in each of his past 3 games.
The Braves were on pace for a shutout, but with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth Ben Zobrist had an RBI single and Dioner Novarro followed that with an RBI double against Jonny Venters. Peter Moylan looked sharper than he has as of late in his 0.2 innings pitched, striking out 2 and walking 1 before being removed for Venters.
For the 187 of you that voted that Tommy Hanson would have the best outing in the series preview poll, your odds of being correct are looking good right about now.
Tomorrow's rubber game will feature Tim Hudson (6-2, 2.43 ERA) vs. James Shields (5-5, 4.55 ERA) at 7:10pm EST. Shields has pitched much better than his record and ERA show, so it should be a solid pitching match-up to close out the series.