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Atlanta at Pittsburgh

Venue: PNC Park
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The Atlanta Braves haven't shown any signs of slowing down from their magnificent home run pace, but taking Pittsburgh's Wandy Rodriguez deep could prove to be a challenge.

A few more blasts might help Tim Hudson reach a major milestone.

After going deep four times in a series-opening win over the Pirates, the Braves look to continue their power surge Friday night against Rodriguez as they try to help Hudson earn his 200th win.

Atlanta (13-2) has hit 29 homers in its first 15 games, becoming the first NL team with such a torrid start since Cincinnati in 2006.

All of the Braves' runs Thursday came via the long ball. B.J. and Justin Upton each hit solo homers - Justin's was his major league-best ninth - while Chris Johnson and Evan Gattis added two-run shots in a 6-4 victory to help Atlanta match its best 15-game start in franchise history.

"I was a little surprised," Gattis said after hitting his fifth homer in his first 43 major league at-bats, a tiebreaking two-run shot in the eighth. "I didn't think I hit it hard enough. It started hooking and I'm glad it did because I don't think it would have gone out otherwise."

Opposing pitchers haven't had any margin for error against Atlanta, which is 13-0 when it scores. That's an intimidating prospect for Rodriguez (1-0, 1.00 ERA), who missed his latest start with a tight hamstring after leaving his April 8 outing at Arizona after 2 1-3 innings.

Perhaps the left-hander won't be too fazed by the Braves' torrid start at the plate, though. Rodriguez, who's facing Atlanta for the first time with the Pirates (7-8), hasn't allowed a Braves player to take him deep since July 6, 2008. He went 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA in his eight starts since against Atlanta while with Houston.

Rodriguez has generally done an excellent job of keeping the ball in the park since joining Pittsburgh. After allowing four homers in his first three games with the Pirates, he's given up four over 65 innings spanning his last 11 starts.

The Upton brothers are a combined 3 for 15 against Rodriguez, though they've each homered once.

The Braves counter with Hudson (2-0, 2.50), who has the majors' fourth-lowest home runs per nine inning rate (0.63) since 2007. He gave one up to Washington's Danny Espinosa on Saturday, but allowed only three other hits over seven innings while outdueling Stephen Strasburg in a 3-1 win.

That was Hudson's 199th victory, meaning Friday will be his first chance to become the 110th pitcher in major league history to reach 200.

"I'm just thrilled to have had the opportunity to play as long as I have," Hudson told the Braves' official website. "When I was in college, and even when I first started playing in the big leagues, 200 wins seemed like forever away. A lot of good things have to go right for you."

Plenty has gone right for Hudson in his recent starts against the Pirates. He's 4-2 with a 2.01 ERA in his last six outings versus Pittsburgh, and he hasn't allowed a homer over 40 1-3 innings in that stretch.

Garrett Jones is 5 for 11 against Hudson, but the other five members of the Pirates' Thursday lineup against righty Julio Teheran that have faced Hudson are a combined 8 for 53 (.151).

Leadoff hitter Starling Marte, who hasn't seen Hudson, struck out in all five at-bats in the opener as his 10-game hitting streak came to an end.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Probable Starters

Tim Hudson, RHP
2013 stats
18.0 Innings Pitched 9.0
2-0 Wins-Losses 1-0
2.50 Earned Run Average 1.00
5 Walks 1
13 Strikeouts 6
94 Pitches Per Start 71
Career vs. opponent
80.2 Innings Pitched 66.0
6-5 Wins-Losses 3-3
2.90 Earned Run Average 3.41

Wandy Rodriguez, LHP
Weather
weather image  a few tstorms. Overcast. Mild.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
70°F45°F18mph/SW56%98%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Atlanta2nd NL East7266.5226 ½ 5-5 L 1
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central7166.51836-4 L 2
 
 

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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Atlanta -130 Pittsburgh 120
Injuries
Atlanta
PlayerInjury
B. BeachyElbow
P. BeatoElbow
G. FloydElbow
C. GearrinElbow
K. MedlenElbow
S. SimmonsShoulder
J. VentersElbow
Pittsburgh
PlayerInjury
P. AlvarezFoot
C. MortonHernia
T. SniderHamstring
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 4PITPIT 12-2Cole Miller 
Apr 5PITSTL 6-1Kelly Liriano 
Apr 6PITPIT 2-1Watson Wainwright 
Apr 25STLSTL 1-0Miller Cole 
Apr 26STLPIT 6-1Pimentel Lyons 
Apr 27STLSTL 7-0Wainwright Volquez 
May 9PITPIT 6-4Wilson Martinez 
May 10PITPIT 4-3Hughes Lynn 
May 11PITSTL 6-5Miller Morton 
Jul 7STLSTL 2-0Neshek Wilson 
Jul 8STLSTL 5-4Rosenthal Frieri 
Jul 9STLSTL 5-2Lynn Cumpton 
Jul 10STLPIT 9-1Volquez Miller 
Aug 25PITSTL 3-2Lackey Hughes 
Aug 26PITPIT 5-2Watson Maness 
Aug 27PITPIT 3-1Locke Wainwright 
Sep 1STLSTL 5-4  
Sep 2STL 8:15 PM EDT  
Sep 3STL 1:45 PM EDT