Atlanta starter Tim Hudson matches up against Washington's lefty Matt Chico, after Hudson faced Odalis Perez the last time these two teams met back on Opening Night in DC. In that start, Hudson gave up two runs in the first, but then held the Nationals there through the next six innings, allowing just three hits in 7.0 innings on the mound.
Matt Chico gets a strikeout and two groundouts from Atlanta to retire the side in order in the top of the first. Cristian Guzman grounds back to the mound, Lastings Milledge lines out to right, Ryan Zimmerman flies out to center. TIm Hudson throws another scoreless frame in Nationals Park.
Mark Teixeira breaks his bat so the ball only reaches short center where DC second baseman Ronnie Belliard makes the grab. Jeff Francouer pushes a 1-2 pitch outside through the right side of the infield for a single off Matt Chico. Chico walks Brian McCann to put two on with one out in the second. Matt Diaz, hits the ball off the end of his bat, to Belliard at second, toss to Guzman, throw to Johnson at first, Double Play.
Nick Johnson almost gets one over Mark Kotsay's head in center, but the Braves' new outfielder reaches over his shoulder at a full sprint to make the grab. Austin Kearns goes the other way on a 2-2 fastball for a single into right. Ronnie Belliard grounds to Braves' shortstop Yunel Escobar, who steps on second and throws to first. Double Play.
Mark Kotsay bounces one off Matt Chico's foot, Chico quickly recovers and throws to first. The opposing pitcher, Tim Hudson grounds out to short. Kelly Johnson reaches safely on an infield single, but Yunel Escobar lines one right into Ryan Zimmerman's glove to end the top of the third. Jesus Flores swings through a sinking fastball from Tim Hudson. Hudson backs a fastball into the zone, from inside the batters box, in under Cristian Guzman's arms for strike three. Lastings Milledge grounds out. 0-0 after three. (In less than 30 minutes.)
Chico gets Chipper to ground back to the mound. Mark Teixeira takes a 2-2 pitch to left where Willie Harris has it. Jeff Francouer grounds to third. Chico's through four. Cristian Guzman grounds back up the middle for a leadoff single in the Nationals' fourth. Lastings Milledge lays down a sac bunt to move Guzman to second. Zimmerman chases an outside fastball off of the plate for a swinging strike three. Nick Johnson works a walk. Two on two out for Austin Kearns, who grounds out to second where Kelly Johnson knocks it down and throws to first in time to end the fourth.
Matt Chico pops up Brian McCann. Chico brings a cutter from outside onto the corner of the plate to get Matt Diaz staring at strike three. Mark Kotsay reaches down and hits a lazy line drive to left where Willie Harris closes his glove on the top of the fifth. Ronnie Belliard grounds out to third. Jesus Flores can't figure out Hudson's slider which drops out of the zone under Flores' bat. Willie Harris takes a two-out walk. Matt Chico grounds into a force at second. Five innings down. Still no score.
Matt Chico returns the favor, getting Hudson to ground out to short. Kelly Johnson flies to short left. Yunel Escobar takes one for a ride to right...off the scoreboard? No?It's Gone! Escobar gives the Braves a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Chipper Jones grounds to first. 1-0 middle of six. Tim Hudson's back on the mound, and he gets Cristian Guzman to pop out for the first out of the inning. Lastings Milledge grounds out to short, and almost beats out the throw from short. Zimmerman grounds to short. Hudson through six. 1-0 Atlanta.
Mark Teixeira starts the seventh with a single to left off Matt Chico. Jeff Francouer flies to center. Brian McCann grounds to Belliard, to Guzman, back to Johnson at first. Double Play. Nick Johnson lines out to Matt Diaz. Austin Kearns rips one under a diving Yunel Escobar for a one-out single up the middle. Austin Kearns is running...throw from McCann is on time, the ump punches Kearns out. Tim Hudson paints the outside corner, and Ronnie Belliard's caught looking. 1-0 after seven.
Matt Chico's back for the eigth. Matt Diaz swings through a fastball. Mark Kotsay ropes a double to right. Tim Hudson's successful with a sac bunt. Kelly Johnson pops out foul of third. Zimmerman has it. Six more outs for DC against Hudson. Felipe Lopez grounds the first pitch to first. Willie Harris takes a 2-1 pitch to right, right at Jeff Francouer. Johnny Estrada...you guessed it. Grounds out to second. 1-0 after eight.
The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History Jon Rauch tries to keep it close. Yunel Escobar singles under Rauch's feet and up the middle. Chipper slices a single into left. Two on, no outs. Rauch walks Teixeira to load the bases. Jeff Francouer chases a pitch into the dirt for strike three and the first out. Rauch drops a breaking ball that Brian McCann chases into the ground. Matt Diaz sees the breaker coming and knocks a single to center. Two runs score. 3-0 Atlanta. Mark Kotsay pushes Willie Harris back to the wall, but Harris has it. Three outs to get three runs...Peter Moylan, Opening Night's goat to face Guzman, Milledge and Zimmerman. Guzman stares at strike three. Milledge flies out to left. Ryan Zimmerman...chases an 0-2 pitch a foot off of the plate. Nasty stuff from Moylan. 3-0 Braves win.
Nationals now 3-8.
Tim Hudson's dominance of the Nationals/Expos continued tonight, and in an article by MLB.com's Mark Bowman entitled, "Hudson baffles nats in shutout victory", Mr. Bowman writes:
"Hudson has never allowed more than two earned runs in any of the 10 career starts against the Nationals/Expos. In the process, he's gone 6-1 with a 1.11 ERA."
...and Mr. Bowman quotes Hudson himself, who acknowledges that:
"'There are some teams you feel more confident against,' Hudson said. 'But I'm not going to assume it's going to last all of the time.'"
CHAD CORDERO, A STARTER?
For one night only at least. The Flat-Brimmed Closer made what will hopefully be his last rehab start before returning to the DC Bullpen. According to MiLB.com's Anthony Opperman, in an article entitled, "Potomac powers past Kinston", tonight's matchup between the Po-Nats and the Kinston Indians:
"...started on a high note as Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero started the game, retiring the side in order on only seven pitches."
Other Potomac Nationals of note...
'07 First Round Pick Ross Detwiler is (1-0) heading into his second start tomorrow night. In his first start of the season, Detwiler pitched 5.0 shutout innings against the Salem Avalanche, Houston's Class A affiliate, with Detwiler collecting 7 K's while giving up 1 walk and 3 hits.
Zech Zinicola, has allowed only 1 hit in 3.2 IP in relief, and he's struck out 4 in games.
Matt Chico's For Real...
Lost in Tim Hudson's dominance was the fact that Matt Chico matched him (almost) every step of the way...
Hudson - 8.0 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 2 walks, 5 K's.
Chico - 8.0 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 1 HR, 3 K's.
Hudson's thrown 21.0 IP so far in '08, and he's (2-0), allowing 12 hits, 5 ER, 2 walks and 12 K's with a 2.14 ERA in 3 starts.
Matt Chico lowered his '08 ERA to 3.72 in 19.1 IP, and the lefty's allowed 19 hits, 8 ER's, 2 HR's and 4 walks with 12 K's...but Chico's (0-2).
The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History is Struggling...
1.0 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER, 1 walk...9.00 ERA this season...in 5 games and 5.0 innings, Rauch has allowed 8 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned, 1 HR and 2 walks...for a 9.00 ERA...9!!