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Marlins' spanking of Hudson explained


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Miami ? The good news about Tim Hudson's performance: He didn't leave early because of injury.


That was the only good news Wednesday night.


Hudson lasted three innings and gave up four runs in a 6-5 loss against the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium, where the Braves lost for the sixth time in eight games on a trip that mercifully concludes tonight.


Yunel Escobar's two-run homer in the fifth inning was the only offensive highlight until the eighth inning for the Braves, who fell to an alarming 0-7 in one-run games this season.


"I don't know how bad hell is, but I'd call it the trip from hell so far," left fielder Matt Diaz said.


The Braves turn to John Smoltz tonight and hope their co-ace can provide a boost that the usually reliable Hudson did not.


Atlanta scored two runs in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 6-5, but Mark Kotsay grounded into a rally-ending double play. And that was that.


Hudson's fastball velocity was down about 5 mph all night. He said he threw a pitch as hard as he could to Mike Jacobs in the third, and Jacobs scorched the mere 85-mph fastball to the right-field seats.


Hudson allowed six hits and four runs while looking nothing like the pitcher who entered with a .167 opponents' average and National League-leading .181 opponents' slugging percentage.


"I felt fine physically," Hudson said. "Just one of those nights I went out there and just couldn't get anything behind the ball. It was kind of a weird feeling. My heater [fastball] is normally a lot better than that. Just wasn't coming out of my hand good, for whatever reason."


Hudson (2-1) was weakened by flu symptoms last week in Colorado. That game was snowed out, and he rebounded to pitch eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball Friday in a win at Washington. Which made his Wednesday performance only more surprising.


"It wasn't coming out [of his hand] really good tonight," manager Bobby Cox said pulling Hudson after three innings. "I thought it might be a good time to give him a break. ... His arm was kind of dead."


The NL East-leading Marlins (9-5) took a rare opportunity to feast on Hudson, who was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six previous starts at Dolphin Stadium.


"It could be some residual effects from the flu that's just catching up to me, but I don't know," Hudson said. "I'm not one to make excuses like that. Just one of those things where consistently my heater was 84, 85, 86. That's not gonna get it done, for me."


Hudson was staked to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jeff Francoeur doubled and scored on a two-out grounder by Diaz, generously ruled a single and throwing error by third baseman Jorge Cantu.


The Marlins knocked Hud-son around for three runs in the second inning, including two doubles, a single and a walk by the first five batters. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run bloop to center for a 3-1 lead.


With two out in the third, Jacobs hit a liner to the right-field seats, only the second homer off a Braves starter this season.


Escobar gave the Braves (5-9) some hope when he crushed a two-out, two-run homer (his third) off Mark Hendrickson in the fifth inning, closing the lead to 4-3. The Cuban defector (and Miami resident) tossed his bat high in the air behind him and pointed toward family members above the first-base dugout as he began his trot.

I'm sure Jake's eyes lit up when he saw that 85mph fastball down the middle of the plate.

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