Braves lose Jones but beat Marlins

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MIAMI – By the time Chipper Jones pulled up lame, the Atlanta Braves already had plenty of runs for Tim Hudson.

Then Hudson departed with a tender elbow.

Jones strained his left hamstring, and Hudson left after six innings with tightness in his right elbow, tempering the glow of the Braves’ 9-4 victory Wednesday night over the Florida Marlins.

Jones, the major-league batting leader at .369, was hurt running out a groundout in the fourth inning and immediately left the game. It was an alarming development for a team that’s 2-10 without Jones and struggling to stay in the NL East race.

Hudson’s status is even more worrisome. He improved to 11-7, allowing only three hits and one walk, but departed after throwing just 68 pitches in six shutout innings.

The team said both players will be evaluated further. The Braves are off Thursday before starting an important series Friday in Philadelphia.

Florida finished its homestand 3-3 and missed a chance to forge a three-way tie atop the NL East with Philadelphia and the New York Mets.

Ricky Nolasco (10-6) allowed eight hits and five runs in five innings. He fell to 0-3 in three starts against Atlanta this year, with an ERA of 10.57, while his ERA against all other teams is 3.10.

The Braves, who totaled one hit Tuesday, had eight after four innings against Nolasco. Hudson singled and scored the game’s first run. Gregor Blanco had four hits, scored three runs and drove in three, and Yunel Escobar had two doubles and three RBIs.

Florida leads the NL with 28 come-from-behind wins, but there was no rallying against Hudson and four relievers. The score was 9-0 before Luis Gonzalez hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Buddy Carlyle.

The Marlins head for Wrigley Field in a scoring slump. Dan Uggla went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-22 since his miserable performance in the All-Star Game. Hanley Ramirez is in a 2-for-21 skid. Josh Willingham, who was given the night off, is batting .167 since coming off the disabled list June 24.

The Braves’ attack has been sputtering, too, but Hudson got it going with a leadoff single in the third, and Blanco reached when his sacrifice bunt went for a hit. Escobar doubled home a run, and Blanco came home on a groundout by Jones.

The Braves added three runs to make it 5-0 in the fourth. Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson doubled, Blanco hit a two-out RBI single, and Escobar followed with a run-scoring double.

Blanco hit a two-run triple in the eighth.

Notes: Blanco got the last word in a fourth-inning quarrel with plate umpire Doug Eddings. After hitting an RBI single, Blanco looked back over his right shoulder and hollered at Eddings while running to first base. … The Marlins said RHP Justin Miller, who went on the disabled list July 5 with right elbow inflammation, may be activated as early as Friday.