Braves to face another ace in Beckett

Braves to face another ace in Beckett

Atlanta is done playing in American League cities, but the Braves aren't finished facing some of the best pitchers the Junior Circuit has to offer.

After opposing the likes of Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona during a six-game Interleague road trip through Minnesota and Cleveland, Atlanta returned to Turner Field on Monday, where Curt Schilling was waiting.

It won't get any easier for Atlanta in the second game of the three-game series with Boston as Josh Beckett, coming off his first loss of the season after winning his first nine decisions, gets the start for the Red Sox.

When Detroit comes to town, the Tigers will likely send Justin Verlander to the mound, along with Kenny Rogers, who could come off the disabled list in time to start the first game of the series on Friday.

"It's not really something you notice," Braves outfielder Matt Diaz said about the glut of pitching in the American League. "They've got a lot of solid pitchers over there, but we've got a lot of good young pitchers over here in the National League, too."

Beckett didn't face Atlanta during the series in Boston last month, but he saw plenty of the Braves during his time with the Marlins from 2001-05. In 14 starts against Atlanta, Beckett is 5-7, but his 2.62 career ERA against the Braves indicates several hard-luck losses.

Atlanta starter Tim Hudson says he is physically ready to go after being forced to leave Thursday's start against Minnesota with pain in the back of his shoulder near his armpit. Hudson said the injury flares up once or twice a year, but he was feeling no pain Monday.

Hudson is looking to repeat Thursday's performance, when he held the Twins scoreless through 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits before leaving with the injury. In his career against Boston, the former Oakland Athletics stalwart is 3-8 in 11 starts, though Hudson does own a complete-game shutout against the Red Sox.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.25 ERA)
Hudson has been forced to leave his last two starts with injuries, but on Monday he pronounced himself fully healthy. The right-hander hasn't won this month, going 0-1 with two no-decisions.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (9-1, 3.39 ERA)
Beckett allowed more than four runs for the first time Thursday, surrendering six runs on 10 hits in a loss to the Rockies. Since winning his first seven decisions of the season, Beckett is 2-1 with two no-decisions.

Player to watch
Boston first baseman/designated hitter David Ortiz has nine hits in 31 career at-bats against Hudson, including four doubles and a home run.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 4-4, 4.97) at Braves (Buddy Carlyle, 1-1, 4.44), 7:35 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Off-day
• Friday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 17-8, 3.84 in '06) at Braves (John Smoltz, 8-3, 2.84), 7:35 p.m. ET

Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.