published Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Hudson struggles as Braves lose again

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Atlanta Braves were swept by the contending St. Louis Cardinals this weekend and dropped six of eight on their road trip.

Sounds like a perfect time to head south.

"Obviously, we're still in a good spot even though we haven't played very well this past week," Atlanta starter Tim Hudson said following Sunday's 6-3 loss at St. Louis. "We just need to get home, get our feet under us a little bit and take a deep breath and understand they're chasing us and we're not chasing them."

Yadier Molina had three hits, including a three-run double, as the Cardinals pulled within 4½ games of NL wild card-leading Atlanta and remained six games back of Central-leading Milwaukee They have 16 games left and open a three-game set in Pittsburgh on Monday.

"We've been playing good the whole year," Molina said. "We're in second place because Milwaukee had such a good run. But we've been playing good baseball."

Atlanta, which was swept by Philadelphia at the beginning of its road trip, starts a three-game series with the Marlins on Monday and has 15 games remaining.

"It's just a matter of eight games in seven days," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Maybe that's one thing. The other thing is that maybe some times teams go through bad road trips."

Atlanta has dropped seven straight games at Busch Stadium and hasn't won in St. Louis since Sept. 13, 2009.

Jake Westbrook (12-8) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings for the Cardinals. Jason Motte pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in eight chances.

St. Louis got to Hudson (14-10) for five runs in the third, taking advantage of a lapse in control by the right-hander. Hudson plunked Daniel Descalso leading off the inning, and hit Jon Jay with another pitch with two down, leaving runners on the corners.

Albert Pujols hit an RBI single before Hudson issued consecutive walks to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, forcing home a run. Molina then cleared the bases with a double to right, making it 5-0.

Hudson was charged with six runs and eight hits in six innings.

"I made my bed," Hudson said. "I set them up. If Albert hits that ball a little better, it's a zero in that inning and you never know what could have happened. But he blooped it in and the bases-loaded walk really hurt. The bases-clearing double was the back breaker."

Braves star Chipper Jones hit a solo drive in the eighth for his 17th homer of the season and No. 453 for his career, moving him ahead of Carl Yastrzemski and into 33rd place. Freddie Freeman singled in a run for Atlanta, and pinch-hitter Matt Diaz had a sacrifice fly.

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