Braves escape with 2-0 victory over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tim Hudson threw another gem against Tampa Bay.

Hudson scattered four hits over 7 2/3 innings, David Ross homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the Rays 2-0 on Sunday.

“My sinker has been key for me all year,” Hudson said. “I was able to keep them off balance.”

Hudson (3-1), who is 8-1 overall against the Rays, retired nine in a row before Ben Zobrist opened the fourth with a line single to right. The right-hander struck three, walked two and got 14 groundball outs.

“That’s what he is, a groundball machine,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He did it pretty efficiently, too.

Ross put the Braves up 1-0 on an opposite-field, solo-homer to right in the third. Jason Heyward made it 2-0 on a two-out, RBI single during the sixth.

Jonny Venters, who replaced Hudson after B.J. Upton had an infield single with two outs in the eighth, loaded the bases by hitting both Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena. The left-hander caught a break when Pena was called out between first and second when he was hit by Luke Scott’s grounder.

“It caught me in mid-stride,” Pena said. “It was just a helpless feeling because I couldn’t go anywhere. I think I was in the air when the ball was hit, and it was a rocket. It was just bad luck. If I played it less aggressively, the wrong way, maybe I’m able to stop, back off and we score two runs. So I think there we got penalized for running the bases right.”

Scott was credited with a single on the play.

“Got lucky and we won the game,” Venters said. “A win is a win.”

Gonzalez called the eighth an interesting inning.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an inning in the major leagues end the way that inning ended, but we’ll take it,” Gonzalez said. “We won’t give it back.”

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 13th save to complete a five-hitter.

David Price (6-3) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings for Tampa Bay.

“He’s been good all year, and his whole career,” Hudson said. “You knew runs were going to be tough to come by. That two-run lead felt like it was an eight-run lead because you didn’t expect to get a whole lot today.”

The Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth when Zobrist was hit by a pitch, Upton singled and Joyce walked, but failed to score when Pena flew out to deep center.

“That was the ballgame for me,” Hudson said. “I didn’t make a great pitch to him, it wasn’t the best of curveballs, and he just missed it.”

After Sean Rodriguez had a one-out bloop double down the right-field line in the seventh, Hudson got out of the jam by getting consecutive grounders from Will Rhymes and Elliot Johnson.

Rodriguez, playing third, took a hit away from Ross leading off the fifth when he dove into foul territory to field a grounder and then throw the Atlanta catcher out at first.

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game because of a bruised left calf and is day to day. He was hit by Upton’s hard one-hop liner in Friday night’s game.

“He’s walking around better,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully (he’ll play Monday) or maybe even Tuesday.”

NOTES: There was a video tribute after the first inning for Jones, who is retiring after this season. This was the Florida native’s final regular-season visit to Tropicana Field. Jones, who received a standing ovation during the video, left the dugout and tipped his hat to the fans. Jones plans to use a protective shin guard the rest of the season. … Rays INF Jeff Keppinger has an injured right foot after getting hit by a foul ball in the dugout on Saturday. … Tampa Bay C Jose Molina left after six innings as a precaution after taking a ball off the mask. “He did get dinged a little bit there,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He came out and he was not 100 percent right. I was not comfortable sending him back out there.” … Venters said his control problems stem from not finishing his pitches.

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