This week, the Atlanta Braves return home starting today with a four-game series against the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates. The series opens tonight at Turner Field with Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.39 ERA) taking the mound against the Pirates’ James McDonald (6-4, 4.15).
In his last three starts, Hudson is 2-0 with 15 strikeouts over 21 innings pitched. He took a no decision in his appearance last Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies, despite only allowing two earned runs over seven innings. Tied 2-2 in the ninth, Colorado scored the winning run on a walk-off single against Atlanta’s Eric O’Flaherty.
Hudson has been consistent, pitching at least six innings in each of his last six outings.
On Tuesday, Tommy Hanson (11-5, 3.06 ERA) will face Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.28). Hanson has been erratic lately, giving up at least five earned runs in each of his last two outings, despite taking the win last Thursday at Colorado. The Braves were able to prevail in Hanson’s last start for the win thanks to home runs from Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward, and a run-scoring triple by Nate McLouth.
On Wednesday, Jair Jurrjens will take another stab at winning his 13th game of the season, and Derek Lowe will pitch the final game of the series on Thursday.
Pittsburgh has been one of the surprise stories in baseball this season. The Pirates, Cardinals and Brewers are tied for first place in the NL Central.
GWINNETT BRAVES: While the big league club is home this week, the Triple-A G-Braves are going to be away from Coolray Field for the next five days. After wrapping up a four-game series at the Norfolk Tides tonight, Gwinnett heads off to face International League division rival Durham for four games starting on Tuesday.
Two of the hottest hitters for Gwinnett lately have been outfielder Stefan Gartrell and shortstop Tyler Pastornicky. Gartrell hit four home runs last week and is now the single-season home run leader in Gwinnett Braves history.
Meanwhile, in his first week since the call up from Double-A Mississippi, Pastornicky had eight hits in 19 at bats, including a three-hit night in the series opener at Norfolk. At Mississippi, Pastornicky was hitting .299 with six home runs and 36 RBIs.