The Atlanta Braves hope Tim Hudson's last start was a mere bump in the road and Chipper Jones' latest injury is nothing serious.
While Jones' status is questionable, Hudson looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season and continue his dominance over the Washington Nationals when the teams open a two-game series Monday night at Turner Field.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Atlanta -184 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 84% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta -184 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Hudson (2-1, 3.38 ERA) allowed four runs and six hits in three innings of Atlanta's 6-5 loss at Florida on Wednesday. Of particular concern for the Braves, Hudson's fastball remained in the mid-80s rather than its customary low 90s, although the pitcher denied anything was wrong with his arm.
"I felt all right physically,'' said Hudson, who had allowed five total runs over his previous three starts. "I just couldn't get anything behind the ball. It was a weird feeling. My heater's usually a lot better than that.
"Nothing was hurting. ... Next time I'll throw harder.''
Manager Bobby Cox hopes that's the case when the right-hander faces Washington (5-14) for the third time this season and tries to lead Atlanta (9-9) to a fifth straight victory. The Braves, who have not lost since Hudson's last start, now have a chance to surpass the .500 mark for the first time in 2008.
Hudson is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts versus the Nationals in 2008, and 6-1 with a 1.11 ERA in 10 career appearances against them. He will match up with Washington's Matt Chico (0-3, 4.81) for the second time in 11 days.
Jones irritated the strained right quadriceps he originally hurt earlier this month in Sunday's 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Before leaving, the NL's leading hitter went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and raise his average to .458. Cox said the injury is "nothing that's going to have him out any length at all.''
Jones felt coming out of the game Sunday was a precautionary move.
"I just didn't want to take any more chances than I had to,'' said Jones, who is 6-for-14 with two homers against Washington in 2008.
Mark Teixeira was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs on Sunday for the Braves, who have outscored the Marlins and Dodgers 24-3 during their four-game winning streak. Teixeira is hitting .381 with two home runs and six RBIs in his last five games.
Chico (0-3, 4.81) will try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss. He allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-2 road loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Though he's 2-3 against the Braves in his career, the left-hander has a 2.34 ERA versus them. He had his best outing of the season against Hudson and the Braves on April 11, allowing a run and five hits over eight innings of a 3-0 loss.
The Nationals managed only five hits in a 6-1 loss at Florida on Sunday - their second consecutive defeat and fifth in six games.
"We're just playing losing baseball right now,'' catcher Johnny Estrada said.
Washington right fielder Austin Kearns homered Sunday and has driven in four runs in his last three games. He is 4-for-12 against Atlanta this season.
These teams have split four meetings - all played at Washington - thus far in 2008.