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Braves 6, Astros 2: With Francoeur headed down, Braves bust skid
Atlanta Braves’ Kelly Johnson, right, celebrates with teammate Mark Teixeira after hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Atlanta on Friday. Atlanta won 6-2. - photo by The Associated Press

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves were feeling down after five straight losses and the demotion of popular teammate Jeff Francoeur.

How down? The Braves hadn’t led a game in a week.

Jason Perry’s debut as the fill-in for Francoeur helped end the drought.

Perry hit a run-scoring triple in his first major league at-bat, Tim Hudson gave up only one run in seven innings and the Braves beat the Houston Astros 6-2 Friday night to end their skid.

Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Chipper Jones singled in a run in the seventh for Atlanta.

"Our hearts and thoughts are with (Francoeur)," Johnson said, adding Perry’s debut was not easy.

"It’s nice to have guys ready to step in. It was cool for him. It’s a hard situation to come in. He wasn’t with us in spring training."

General manager Frank Wren called the decision to send Francoeur to Double-A Mississippi the most difficult of his career. Wren plans to recall the slumping outfielder after the All-Star break.

"We’ve had some tough times lately, it’s no secret," Hudson said. "It’s easy to get down. We’ve just got to go out there and fight through it, get things going in the right direction."

Perry, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Richmond, drove in Brian McCann with a drive to the right-field wall in the second.

Perry stepped out of the batter’s box for a few deep breaths during his first at-bat against Brian Moehler but insisted he wasn’t nervous.

"Actually, I was pretty relaxed," said Perry, who was released by Detroit on March 28 and signed with Atlanta on April 20.

"I felt good. I just went up there and I kept battling, trying to hit the ball somewhere with two outs and put the ball in play."

Perry is the first Atlanta player to hit a triple in his first major league at-bat, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I’m not going to hit 10 or 15 triples a year," he said. "But to have that be my first one, the only thing better would have been a homer."

Mark Kotsay also had a sacrifice fly in the second that gave the Braves a 1-0 lead — their first in 47 innings, since the ninth inning of a 4-0 win at Toronto last Friday.

The Braves needed no reminder about the weeklong stretch without a lead.

"I know," manager Bobby Cox said with a sigh. "Feels real good. Feels great."

Houston was held to six hits in its fourth straight loss.

"We just can’t seem to score," manager Cecil Cooper said. "You have to give (Hudson) some credit. He’s a quality pitcher. He was hitting his spots. He’s tough, especially when you give him a cushion."

The Braves recovered from being swept by Philadelphia in a three-game home series for the second time this season. Hudson (9-6) gave up one run and four hits. Blaine Boyer and Jeff Bennett combined to work the eighth, with Boyer charged with a run and two hits in one-third of an inning.

Mike Gonzalez pitched a perfect ninth.

McCann drove in Jones with a third-inning single for a 3-0 lead.

Lance Berkman had an RBI single and Moehler (4-4) gave up five runs and six hits in six innings for the Astros. Miguel Tejada also drove in a run with a fielder’s choice in the eighth.

Notes: Martin Prado was the last Braves player to have a triple for his first hit, on April 23, 2006. ... Francoeur was hitting only .234 this season. ... Postgame fireworks helped draw a sellout crowd of 48,045, the largest of the year. at Turner Field. ... Houston RHP Chris Sampson will make his first start since May 25 on Saturday night. RHP Roy Oswalt (strained left hip) will a skip a turn in the rotation. ... Hudson made his 300th appearance.

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