Red Menace

Tim Hudson has been unbeatable lately. The same can't be said about the Atlanta Braves.

Hudson looks to continue one of the best stretches of his career while the Braves try to avoid their fourth loss in five games in the opener of a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night at Great American Ballpark.

Hudson (14-5, 3.02 ERA) has been one of the NL's most consistent pitchers over the last two months. The right-hander has been victorious in four straight starts, and is looking to win his ninth straight decision in a single season for the first time since April 25-July 2, 2000, while with Oakland.

No Braves pitcher has won nine consecutive decisions since Jaret Wright from May 27-Aug. 12, 2004.

Hudson has a 2.39 ERA since June 25, and Atlanta (65-59) has won each of the right-hander's 10 starts during his run.

"He gives us a chance to win every time he's out there," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "That's all you can ask for."

Oddsmakers from have made Atlanta -210 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta -210 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Without Hudson on the mound, however, the Braves haven't been nearly as successful. Since acquiring first baseman Mark Teixeira and relief pitcher Octavio Dotel at last month's trade deadline, Atlanta has gone 9-8 to fall further back in the NL East standings.

But Teixeira homered twice and drove in four runs as Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over Arizona on Sunday. The Braves finished their homestand with a 3-3 record and remained in third place in the NL East, 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading New York Mets.

"We can't just keep trading wins and losses and periods of two weeks where we're 7-7 or 6-6," center fielder Andruw Jones told the Braves' official Web site. "We need to start making a move, having homestands where we're going 5-1, 6-0, not 3-3 and 2-4 and 4-2."

They'll try to rebound on the road, where they've lost seven of 11 games. Hudson, though, is 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA away from Turner Field this year.

At home on Wednesday, Hudson overcame two balks - the first two called against him since 2004 - to beat San Francisco 6-3. He held the Giants to three runs in eight innings during his seventh consecutive quality start.

"I feel real comfortable right now," Hudson said. "It's been a long time since I've felt this good, this comfortable for this stretch of a time. It's good to be able to go out and give us a good chance at a win for our stretch (run)."

Hudson is 1-0 with a 5.02 ERA in two career starts against Cincinnati, which swept the Braves in a three-game road series from July 16-18.

The Reds (54-69) are coming off a 4-2 road trip - their first winning road trip in more than a year - which helped them improve to 9-7 this month. On Sunday, they capped the trip with a 7-6 comeback win over Milwaukee, erasing an early five-run deficit. Pinch-hitter Javier Valentin hit a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning to lead Cincinnati to the victory.

"We just kept chipping back," Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "I couldn't have predicted the outcome, but I'm extremely happy with it."

Cincinnati starter Phil Dumatrait (0-1, 10.32) will try again for his first major league win as he faces the Braves for the first time. In his third start of the season on Wednesday, the left-handed rookie was tagged for five runs in two innings, but the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 11-9.

Teixeira, who is 1-for-10 lifetime against Cincinnati, has seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 17 games with Atlanta.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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