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Hudson, Conrad the difference in Braves win
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Braves vs. Dodgers
When: 7:10 tonight
Where: Atlanta
Pitchers: Braves, RHP Derek Lowe (11-9, 4.40); Dodgers, LHP Ted Lilly (5-8, 3.60)
TV, radio: Peachtree TV; 99.3 FM, 1240 AM

ATLANTA — Tim Hudson needed the support of only one big hit to continue his streak of impressive wins.
The Braves' fill-in for Chipper Jones came through in a big way.

Hudson extended his dominant stretch of starts with three-hit ball for eight innings and Brooks Conrad homered in the seventh to lift Atlanta to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

In the Braves' first game since learning Jones would be lost for the season with a knee injury, Conrad made the initial bid to fill the void as he replaced Jones at third base.

Conrad hit his second key homer in three games, following a two-run homer in the ninth after replacing the injured Jones in Tuesday's 4-2 win at Houston.

"Conrad, what's new about that?" asked Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Conrad, a 30-year-old rookie, has had a knack for key homers off the bench. Three of his seven homers have come as a pinch-hitter, including two grand slams.

The NL East-leading Braves increased their margin over second-place Philadelphia to three games.

Conrad's homer off Hiroki Kuroda was especially big after Jones announced Friday he will have surgery on his injured left knee on Saturday.

Jones was in uniform on the bench and was part of the crowd of players to greet Conrad after the homer.

"He was excited," Conrad said of Jones. "He came up after the game and said 'Way to go."'

Conrad hit a 2-0 pitch over the center-field wall.

"I was just looking for a pitch up I could drive and try to get on base," said Conrad.

Conrad said he hit a fastball. Kuroda called the pitch a sinker. Each said the pitch was up.

It was Kuroda's fifth shutout loss.

"I didn't really count but it's really disappointing when you say it's the fifth one," Kuroda said.

Hudson (14-5) has won five straight starts and has yielded only two runs in the impressive period.

Hudson is tied for third in the NL in wins. He lowered his ERA to 2.13, also second in the league.

"I feel good," Hudson said. "I'm happy with how I'm giving the team a chance to win.

"It would be nice to get some big leads and blow some teams out, but if we just keep pitching this way we're going to win some more close games."

Hudson struck out the side in the fifth and retired 13 consecutive Dodgers before giving up a single to Scott Podsednik with two outs in the sixth.

"They were both pretty good, weren't they?" asked Dodgers manager Joe Torre of Kuroda and Hudson, who is in his sixth season with Atlanta after six years with Oakland.

"Hudson is back to the guy I remember over there in Oakland," Torre added. "He's just very tough. He doesn't give in, stays down. His pitch count was terrific tonight. We obviously couldn't mount any kind of offense against him tonight."

Hudson threw 91 pitches.

Podsednik led off the game with a walk and moved to second on Ryan Theriot's groundout. Hudson did not allow another baserunner to reach second.

Billy Wagner, who blew his seventh save against Houston on Wednesday, allowed a single to Podsednik leading off the ninth. With one out, Podsednik was caught stealing before Wagner struck out Andre Ethier to earn his 29th save.

Kuroda gave up only three hits before Conrad's 406-foot homer to center field with one out in the seventh.

Kuroda (8-11) gave up four hits and one run in seven innings. He had three strikeouts with two walks, one intentional.

Jonathan Broxton, who was removed from his role as the Dodgers' closer on Friday, gave up one hit in a scoreless eighth inning.

"Until I get back right Joe just wants to put me out there in non-pressure situations," Broxton said. "Let me get back to my feel and we'll go from here. I felt good out there."

NOTES: Torre said SS Rafael Furcal (back) is unlikely to be activated when eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday. Furcal still has soreness in his back. ... Torre said OF Manny Ramirez, who has been out since July 17 with a right calf strain, could be ready for a rehab assignment by the middle of next week. ... Braves LHP Eric O'Flaherty (mononucleosis) gave up one hit in one scoreless inning in his first of at least two rehab appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett. ... The Braves recalled INF Brandon Hicks from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill 3B Chipper Jones' roster spot after Jones was placed on the disabled list with a season-ending knee injury. Jones said he plans to attempt a comeback next season. ... Podsednik has a 10-game hitting streak.

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