for this game

Harden bests Hudson as A's top Braves

May 18, 2008 - 3:12 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Tim Hudson waited almost four years to face his former club. He probably wishes he waited a little longer.

Jack Cust and Ryan Sweeney greeted their team's former ace with homers and Rich Harden hurled seven solid frames to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

The Athletics, who had scored just four runs over their last four games, wasted no time getting to their former star pitcher in this one.

"They were great," Harden said of his club's offensive contributors. "Especially against a guy like Hudson, he's been a dominant pitcher. The guys had good at-bats. It was an all around good game for our team."

Cust opened the scoring in the first with a blast off Hudson (6-3) into the fourth row of the left-center field bleachers to give A's a 1-0 lead.

One frame later, Oakland plated three more against a wild Hudson. After Daric Barton drew a leadoff walk, catcher Kurt Suzuki reached on a fielder's choice after Barton dove to allude the tag of Kelly Johnson while running from first to second.

"(It was) just a tough play," Johnson said. "I was trying to get one and make another play out of it. It just didn't work out."

Sweeney followed by smacking a three-run blast off the screen of the foul pole in right field for his first homer of the season.

"It was a changeup," Sweeney said. "(Hudson's) a ground ball guy. I was just trying to get a pitch up (in the zone) in that situation. He's an unbelievable pitcher. I just kind of got a good pitch to hit."

Hudson struggled with his command early in the contest, falling behind all but three of the first 17 batters that he faced in the first three frames. The righthander helped plate the A's fifth run by issuing a bases-loaded walk to Barton in the third.

The 32-year-old Hudson, who formed the nucleus of a formidable Oakland pitching staff at the turn of the millennium along with Barry Zito and Mark Mulder, surrendered five runs and five hits, walked five and struck out three in five frames against his former team.

"(Facing Oakland) is not that big of a deal to be honest with you," Hudson said. "They took some pretty good pitches and got into some hitters counts. They're a pretty patient club. It's always been their philosophy."

It was another disappointing interleague performance for the two-time All-Star, who fell to 0-9 with a 7.54 ERA against the American League since joining the Braves in 2005.

"I guess I am just horrible," a smirking Hudson said. "I guess I can't pitch to anybody but National League teams." Harden (2-0), one of small-market Oakland's newest aces, had no problems against a red-hot Atlanta club, which had won eight straight at Turner Field entering Saturday.

The 26-year-old Harden was brilliant in his second start since coming off the disabled list with a strained right shoulder on May 11. Harden, who hurled 72 of 102 pitches for strikes, threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 26 batters he faced.

"The key today was two-strike pitches," Harden said. "Getting ahead and putting them away. It was definitely a fun day (facing Hudson). It was definitely fun going up against a guy you've played with. You want to see him do well, but you want to beat him."

The righthander scattered one run and four hits, walked one and struck out eight in seven solid frames to notch his first win since March 26 vs. the Boston Red Sox in Tokyo.

"He is good," said Hudson, who pitched alongside Harden the Oakland ace's rookie campaign in 2004. "He's a lot of bad, tough luck with injuries. But when he's been out there pitching, he's been outstanding. We saw that tonight."

Harden also kept the majors league's hottest hitter, Chipper Jones, at bay. The righthander retired the Atlanta slugger three times, punching him out in the first and the fourth. Jones, who entered the evening hitting .423, was hitless in four at-bats to see his league-leading average plummet to .412. It was only the third time in 20 home games that Jones, who began Saturday with a .459 home batting average, did not have a hit at Turner Field.

"We just wanted to keep him guessing and not pitch him the same way," Harden said. "He's been killing the ball."

Atlanta scored three runs off Oakland closer Huston Street in the ninth on Jeff Francoeur's fielder's choice, a triple by Johnson and Gregor Blanco's sacrifice fly. But Street struck out to Greg Norton to preserve Oakland's second victory in eight games.

Yunel Escobar drove in a run in the fifth for Atlanta, which lost for the first time at Turner Field in May.








  • ML
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    OAKLAND 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 7 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 4 7 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: OAK - RICH HARDEN, KEITH FOULKE (8TH), HUSTON STREET (9TH) AND KURT
    SUZUKI
    ATL - TIM HUDSON, ROYCE RING (6TH), CHRIS RESOP (6TH),
    PHIL STOCKMAN (9TH) AND BRIAN MCC

    May 17 10:00 PM


  • ML
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY GREGOR BLANCO SCORED KELLY JOHNSON.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 5
    ATLANTA 4 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: G NORTON (.231, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Athletics 5, Braves 4  Bot 9, 0 OutsMay 17 9:58 PM
  • 61
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Athletics 5, Braves 4  Bot 9, 0 OutsMay 17 9:58 PM


  • ML
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY KELLY JOHNSON SCORED JEFF FRANCOEUR.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, K JOHNSON ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 5
    ATLANTA 3 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: G BLANCO (.293, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Athletics 5, Braves 3  Bot 9, 0 OutsMay 17 9:57 PM


  • ML
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY JEFF FRANCOEUR SCORED MARK TEIXEIRA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J FRANCOEUR ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 5
    ATLANTA 2 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: K JOHNSON (.271, 0-FOR-3)

    Athletics 5, Braves 2  Bot 9, 0 OutsMay 17 9:55 PM


  • ML
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY YUNEL ESCOBAR SCORED GREGOR BLANCO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, Y ESCOBAR ON FIRST, R GOTAY ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 5
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: M KOTSAY (.307, 1-FOR-2)

    Athletics 5, Braves 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsMay 17 8:38 PM
  • 26
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 26 roots

    Athletics 5, Braves 0  Bot 5, 0 OutsMay 17 8:27 PM


  • ML
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    BASES LOADED WALK TO DARIC BARTON SCORED BOBBY CROSBY.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D BARTON ON FIRST, E BROWN ON SECOND, J CUST
    ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 5
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: K SUZUKI (.242, 0-FOR-1)

    Athletics 5, Braves 0  Top 3, 0 OutsMay 17 7:54 PM


  • ML
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY RYAN SWEENEY (1) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 2ND OFF TIM HUDSON SCORED DARIC BARTON AND KURT SUZUKI.
    CURRENT SCORE: OAKLAND 4, ATLANTA 0
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: D MURPHY (.196, 2 HR, 6 RBI)

    Athletics 4, Braves 0  Top 2, 0 OutsMay 17 7:30 PM


  • ML
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    OAKLAND 1 1 1 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: OAK - RICH HARDEN
    ATL - TIM HUDSON

    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: Y ESCOBAR (.298, 4 HR, 16 RBI)
    M KOTSAY (.304, 3 HR, 19 RBI)
    C JONES (.423, 11 HR, 32 RBI)

    Athletics 1, Braves 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsMay 17 7:17 PM