McCann's slam rewards gritty Hudson with win

McCann's slam rewards gritty Hudson with win

McCann's slam rewards gritty Hudson with win
PHILADELPHIA -- Dating back to the days when he was told he was too small to play professional baseball, Tim Hudson has possessed a fighting spirit that has enabled him to overcome doubts and persevere like he did as his troublesome left ankle burdened him on Friday night.

Hudson displayed his toughness during a determined seven-inning outing and Brian McCann drilled a two-out grand slam to highlight the five-run eighth inning that provided the Braves a 5-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

"There was no way I was going to get the ball out of his hand," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I would have had to have three or four people with me and we would have had to chase him around even with the bad ankle."

Gonzalez and head athletic trainer Jeff Porter had to make two trips to the mound during the second inning to check on Hudson, who was once again bothered by bone spurs in his left ankle. The veteran pitcher convinced them he could continue and then was rewarded when the Braves took advantage of Antonio Bastardo's three walks in the decisive eighth inning.

Chipper Jones drew a two-out walk to load the bases in the eighth inning and then the aggressive Freddie Freeman showed patience while drawing a bases-loaded walk that plated the game's first run. McCann then followed with his ninth career grand slam over the center-field fence.

Both of the grand slams hit by McCann this year have come against the Phillies. More important, the six-time All-Star catcher appears to be nearing his first true All-Star break with some momentum. He has homered in both of the past two games and indicated throughout the week that he is feeling good at the plate.

"I love hitting with the bases loaded, because they have to come at you and can't walk you," said McCann, who has batted .357 (37-for-104) with the bases loaded. "It's definitely a good feeling to know you can stand in the box and they have to come see you."

The eighth-inning contributions provided a much-deserved win to Hudson, who scattered four hits and issued one walk in seven scoreless innings. It appeared his left ankle might force him to make an early exit. But such was the case on June 5, when he ended his pregame preparations and then told former Atlanta reliever Livan Hernandez to be ready to make an early entrance.

Hudson ended up throwing a five-hit shutout that evening in Miami.

"He's one of the toughest guys you're going to come across," McCann said. "He's going to take the ball every fifth day and it's going to be tough to get him out of that game."

Hudson surrendered a leadoff double to Ryan Howard in the second and then showed his first signs of discomfort in the process of getting Carlos Ruiz to fly out to right field. Gonzalez and Porter made a brief visit to the mound and then felt they needed to return when the veteran pitcher landed awkwardly again.

"I just hit it at a weird angle and hyper-extended it a little bit," Hudson said. "It bit me pretty good. It hurts, but there's no damage done. I don't even know how to explain it. It just hurts and you just have to give it a minute to allow it to go away. It was OK after that."

Hudson retired the next six batters he faced and did not allow another hit until surrendering consecutive two-out singles to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino in the sixth. Hudson escaped that jam by getting Chase Utley to hit a weak grounder to Freeman.

"He got a lot a lot of weak outs," Jones said. "There were not too many balls that were stung tonight off him. That's an indication that he was on top of his game."

A pair of Jason Heyward singles accounted for the only damage Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick incurred before Jones and Freeman began the seventh inning with consecutive singles. The threat died when McCann looked at a called third strike before Dan Uggla produced a weak popup ahead of Andrelton Simmons' inning-ending groundout.

McCann made amends one inning later when he doomed Bastardo like he had Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay with a game-changing grand slam in a 15-13 win on May 2. McCann has homered in two of his three plate appearances with the bases loaded this year.

"I think the at-bat before stung him a little bit," Jones said. "It was a tough pitch, but he was not going to let that opportunity go by without getting his hacks in."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.