PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Tim Hudson's bothersome left ankle forced two visits from the trainer in one inning.
The injury wasn't enough to knock him out of the game. Neither were Philadelphia's bats.
Hudson shook off the ankle spurs and tossed four-hit ball over seven strong innings and McCann hit a grand slam to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
Hudson (7-4) almost had his effective outing wasted when he left a scoreless game after seven innings. Then Atlanta's bats helped him out in the eight.
Pinch-hitter Matt Diaz led off with a single against Antonio Bastardo (2-3) and Michael Bourn walked. After Martin Prado hit a shallow fly and Jason Heyward popped out, Chipper Jones walked to load the bases. Freddie Freeman then walked to force in the first run.
McCann followed with a shot to straightaway center for his ninth career slam, giving the Braves a 5-0 lead.
``I love hitting with the bases loaded because they have to come at you,' McCann said. ``They really can't walk you. It's definitely a good feeling to stand in the box and know they have to come see you.'
Hudson went after a Phillies lineup that included slugging first baseman Ryan Howard for the first time this season. Howard - who once hit three homers in a game off Hudson - doubled in his first at-bat and was 2 for 4 in his first game since rupturing his left Achilles tendon on the final swing in a postseason elimination loss to St. Louis last October.
Hudson almost didn't make it out of the second inning. He shook his left ankle after a pitch to Carlos Ruiz in the second, prompting a visit from manager Fredi Gonzalez and the trainer. A few pitches later, they were back on the mound for a second visit, concerned Hudson might alter his mechanics to compensate.
Nothing to worry about here.
``I was wondering if there was a three knockdown rule like there is in boxing,' a laughing Chipper Jones said. ``But he was good. He stayed on top of him.'
Hudson walked one and failed to strike out a batter for the first time in 78 starts. He improved to 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA in six road starts this season.
``He got a lot, a lot of weak outs. There weren't too many balls that were stung off him,' Jones said. ``That's an indication he's on top of his game.'
Hudson nearly went pitch-for-pitch with Kyle Kendrick, who also threw seven scoreless innings and allowed four hits. Kendrick had five strikeouts.
``Today was probably the best I felt through this whole process,' Hudson said. ``I felt like my fastball, velocity wise, was pretty close to normal. I know for the last three or four starts, I didn't have a whole lot of confidence to really let it go.'
Even with their regulars together for the first time, the struggling Phillies generated nothing on offense. The five-time defending NL East champions are a season-worst 11 games under .500.
Bastardo left the mound following McCann's slam to loud boos from frustrated fans, who've watched the NL's highest-paid team underachieve all season. Since five-time All-Star Chase Utley returned last week, the Phillies are 1-8.
Utley missed 76 games. Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, missed 84.
Even with the addition of a second wild-card team, it'll take a monumental turnaround for these Phillies to reach the postseason for a sixth straight year.
``We still control our own destiny,' Howard said. ``We have to go out and win series. If we can do that, we'll find ourselves in the mix.'
Howard drove the second pitch he saw to the warning track in right-center and easily made it to second base standing. But he stayed there. Ruiz flied out to shallow right, and Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre grounded out.
Hudson ran into trouble after needing nine pitches to retire Kendrick for the second out in the sixth. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino followed with consecutive singles, getting a runner to third base for the first time for either team. But Utley hit a slow tapper to first to end the inning.
Kendrick worked out of a jam in the seventh after Jones and Freeman started with singles. McCann was called out on strikes, Dan Uggla fouled out and Andrelton Simmons grounded out.
Kendrick was 0-4 with a 7.67 ERA in his previous five starts.
NOTES: Jones extended his hitting streak to 12. ... With Howard missing from the lineup, manager Charlie Manuel tried six different cleanup hitters. Pence (43 games) and Ruiz (23) were most used in that spot. ... Kendrick remains 6-1 vs. Atlanta. ... Howard has six homers in 55 career at_bats against Hudson. ... Uggla, the NL starting 2B in the All-Star games, was dropped to seventh in the batting order. He went 0 for 3 and is hitting .223. ... Howard isn't slated to start on Saturday, but should return to the lineup Sunday. Utley may start three straight games for first time since returning. ... The Phillies had their 262nd straight sellout, counting postseason. ... Tommy Hanson (9-5, 3.70) starts for the Braves against Philadelphia's Joe Blanton (7-7, 4.85) on Saturday night.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved