Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 6/7/13
Here are three things we learned from the Braves' 5-0 loss to the Dodgers on Thursday, breaking the club's five-game winning streak: 1. Tim Hudson deserves a better fate than four straight losses (over six winless outings) The Braves' elder statesman had perhaps his finest outing of the season, allowing only one run and four hits over seven scintillating innings including a stretch of 15 consecutive hitters retired. Hudson also fanned five Dodgers, while walking none. For good measure, he didn't register three balls on a single count all night. And yet, Hudson was ultimately thwarted by the seemingly innocuous events of the second inning, when Los Angeles converted a Scott Van Slyke single, Andre Ethier double the result of an outfield miscommunication from B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward and RBI groundout from Skip Schumaker into the game-winning sequence. Outside of that, Hudson was an untouchable commodity for Atlanta, belying his dubious results from April 19-May 27, when the right-hander allowed 32 earned runs over 44 innings ... for an ugly ERA of 6.54 during that span. On the flip side, Hudson has surrendered just one earned run in his last 14.1 innings. And if the Braves hadn't squandered a golden chance to score in the 7th (more on this later), perhaps Hudson could have at least walked away from a super outing with a face-saving 'no decision.' 2. The Braves might need a refresher course in baserunning before Friday's game Let's be blunt here: Atlanta should have knotted the score at 1 in the 7th. With Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann on third and first base, respectively (back-to-back singles), and the Dodgers conceding a Freeman run with zero outs ... the stars were aligned for a big inning. Or at the very least, a simple tie. But that's when things took a turn for the worse. A Dan Uggla strikeout sent the Dodgers into double-play mode for Ramiro Pena's at-bat. But the valuable reserve laced a line-drive out to left field that was seemingly deep enough to score Freeman. But as a reflex reaction to Pena's hot shot, Freeman initially took a few steps toward home, thinking Pena had singled or doubled up the alley. Soon after realizing his footwork error, Freeman sprinted back to third base, only to see that Van Slyke (the son of longtime major leaguer, Andy) suddenly had time to catch the ball and fire an accurate throw to home plate. Not that it mattered ... since Freeman was in no position to tag up. Fast forward to the 8th: Jordan Schafer, Atlanta's best scoring threat on the base paths, singled off Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen to get things started. But that advantage was quickly negated when Andrelton Simmons flied out to center field. Schafer, who was running on the pitch, bit on a fake from Dodgers shortstop Nick Punto and slid into second base with Simmons' ball still in midair. The underlying problem: Schafer had momentarily taken a stop toward third base upon standing up ... which required him to re-touch second base before sprinting back to first after the flyout. But he didn't, and the Dodgers wisely called him on it with a post-play appeal. Double play! In a surprise to no one, Heyward then singled to right field a play that would have sent the speedy Schafer to third base with one out. Instead, the Braves' last realistic rally ended with a bases-empty strikeout from Justin Upton (0 for 3 on the night). 3. Cory Gearrin should seek a cut of Yasiel Puig's jersey sales from Thursday night Fantasy owners are quite familiar with the burgeoning tale of Puig, the Dodgers' 22-year-old wunderkind prospect who destroyed opposing pitchers over just 63 games of minor league action (13 homers, 52 RBI, 46 runs, 21 steals, .328 batting, 1.016 OPS for 2012-13), before recently earning a promotion to the bigs. Before Thursday's game, Puig had accounted for two homers, five RBI, .417 batting and one of the coolest warning-track cutdowns you'll ever see a flurry of individual excellence that captivated Dodgers fans who were looking for an escape from the grim reality of last place (26-33) in the National League West. On Thursday, Puig took another giant leap closer toward matching Fernandomania (the term used to describe the hypeimpact of Dodgers rookie Fernando Valenzuela 32 years ago) ... by launching a first-pitch, opposite-field grand slam off Gearrin in the 8th singlehandedly turning a 1-0 nail-biter into a 5-0 rout. If the Braves (37-23) can take any solace from this surreal night, in due time, it may come in the form of having a birds-eye view for Puig's Hollywood breakout.
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