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Fatigued Hudson falls to Marlins

Fatigued Hudson falls to Marlins

ATLANTA -- When Tim Hudson experienced some struggles against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25, he could simply shrug it off as one of those tough-luck outings that are inevitably going to be encountered during the course of a season.

But when he encountered similar misfortune during Monday night's 6-4 loss to the Marlins at Turner Field, the Braves right-hander wasn't willing to just nonchalantly allow fate to harm him without firing back with apparent disgust.

"It seemed like everything that could go wrong kind of did tonight," said Hudson, who allowed six runs -- five earned -- and seven hits in six innings. "It's really nobody's fault. I've just got to go out there and make better pitches when things aren't coming easy."

Ultimately, it was Aaron Boone's two-out, fifth-inning single that doomed Hudson and led to the Braves suffering their fourth straight home loss. Then again, had All-Star catcher Brian McCann at least blocked a 2-2 splitter that was in the dirt one batter earlier, Jeremy Hermida would have registered an inning-ending strikeout.

Instead of registering the decisive four runs, the Marlins would have been limited to just two runs in the inning. When Edgar Renteria drilled a two-out homer in the ninth off Marlins closer Kevin Gregg, that Hermida plate appearance proved to be even more frustrating for Hudson and McCann.

"Obviously, Mac is a great catcher back there," Hudson said. "It was a tough pitch. It was in the dirt and just got through there. I've got to do a better job picking him up with the next hitter. I knew [Boone] was going to come out aggressive. I just didn't put the slider where I wanted it."

The decisive four-run fifth, which was also plagued with a Willie Harris error that allowed two Marlins to advance an extra base, soured a grand home debut for Yunel Escobar, who was playing in just his third Major League game. With his wife, Minerva, in attendance, the 24-year-old Cuban enjoyed a four-hit performance that included his first career homer -- an opposite-field shot with one out in the fourth inning.

"It was great because it was my first game in Atlanta," Escobar said with bullpen coach Eddie Perez interpreting. "It felt great."

While the Braves can feel great about the energy Escobar has created since being promoted from Triple-A Richmond on Saturday, they certainly weren't feeling good about basically handing a victory to a Marlins team that they outhit 12-7.

Florida starter Wes Obermuller, who managed to allow just three runs while surrendering eight hits in five innings, saw the Braves take an early lead with McCann's two-out RBI single in the first. Hudson began a two-hit night with a second-inning RBI double. But after seeing Escobar take him the opposite way, Obermueller was able to prevent any further damage.

After issuing consecutive two-out walks in the fifth, Obermueller, the man the Braves were able to actually acquire for Dan Kolb two winters ago, ended his evening by striking out Scott Thorman for a second time.

"We've been playing almost perfect baseball," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Tonight, we didn't play quite so perfect. But we hit the ball plenty well enough."

Hudson, who was 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his previous nine career starts against the Marlins, didn't exactly get much help from Jeff Francoeur in the third inning. After seeing Dan Uggla come to a stop at third base, Francoeur halted his throw to the plate. When he did, he dropped the baseball behind him, allowing Uggla to race to the plate with an unearned run.

Harris's fifth-inning error came when he was attempting to aggressively field an Uggla single in hopes of retiring the speedy Reggie Abercrombie at the plate. The ball got behind him, giving the Marlins runners at second and third. This forced Hudson to issue Hanley Ramirez an intentional walk in front of a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly.

"I think that hurt us tonight," said Harris, who has proven to be a strong defensive left fielder. "Both errors were mental errors. I think we were trying to rush to try to make a play at the plate. ... I think Huddy pitched well enough to win."

Hudson, who has seen his ERA rise from 1.77 to 3.09 over the course of his past four starts, came to the ballpark feeling some fatigue caused by a cold he'd acquired earlier in the day. But by the time he took the mound, he says he felt strong.

But then again, Hudson has never been one to make excuses. Even on a night like this one, in which he certainly could have made many.

"I just have to do a better job of picking some guys up when things don't go our way in an inning," Hudson said. "It was a tough game all the way around for everybody."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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