(Sports Network) - Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson hasn't tasted victory in more than a month and is hoping a showdown with the Houston Astros tonight in the opener of a four-game series will change that.
Hudson is 0-3 with a 6.66 earned run average in his last five assignments, but sports a solid career mark against the Astros, going 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in five starts. He last toed the rubber in Sunday's 6-4 loss at New York and allowed five runs on seven hits over four innings.
The right-hander, who hasn't won since a one-hit shutout versus Milwaukee on May 4, fell to 4-5 in 12 starts this season and unintentionally raised his ERA to 4.14. Hudson looks to even his 2-3 road mark tonight in his sixth start this season away from Turner Field.
Atlanta is coming off a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins and improved to 4-2 on a 10-game road trip with Thursday's 3-2 win at Sun Life Stadium. Jair Jurrjens reached the eight-win mark (8-2) with seven innings of two-run ball, while Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters both tossed a scoreless inning of relief, with Venters tacking on his second save.
"He made pitches when he had to," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Jurrjens, who is one of six pitchers with eight victories.
Jurrjens and Alex Gonzalez both drove in a run for the Braves, who have won five of seven games overall. Braves outfielder/third baseman Martin Prado hasn't played since Tuesday with a knee bruise and could return to the lineup tonight. He's batting .277 with eight homers and 33 RBI this season.
Atlanta is seven games over .500 for the first time since ending the 2010 season with a 91-71 ledger. Braves catcher Brian McCann doubled in last night's win and has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 contests.
Houston dropped two of three matchups with St. Louis to kick off a 10-game homestand and lost for the fifth time in six tries with Thursday's 9-2 setback in the series finale.
Astros left-hander J.A. Happ was clobbered for six runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings to fall to 3-8, while Jeff Keppinger and Brett Wallace were each credited with an RBI for Houston, which will also host Pittsburgh for three games on the residency.
"Whatever my terrible record is or whatever my terrible ERA is it doesn't make sense. It's not the pitcher I am. I'm going to have to figure it out," Happ said.
Hunter Pence had two hits and scored a run to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games. Pence is hitting .390 with three homers and 14 RBI during the run.
"It's fun," Pence said on Houston's website. "It's not that I don't know it's going on. I'm not superstitious. It's a hit streak, it's fun, and that's baseball. People like to follow those things. I want to keep it going as long as I can and enjoy the ride. It's not like I'm coming to the park to not get hits. I'm coming to hit."
Taking the mound for the Astros tonight will be rookie Aneury Rodriguez, who's struggled to an 0-3 mark and a 4.95 ERA in his last seven trips to the hill. The right-hander last pitched in a 6-3 loss at San Diego on Saturday and gave up three runs in six innings to fall to 0-3 in 16 games (7 starts).
Rodriguez is 0-2 in eight games (3 starts) at home and has never faced the Braves in his career.
Atlanta swept a two-game set against Houston from May 16-17 and has won eight of the previous nine encounters between the two ballclubs.