KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Tim Hudson is ready for opening day - at the plate as well as on the mound.
Hudson allowed a run and four hits in six innings and went 2 for 2 to raise his spring batting average to .333 as the Atlanta Braves played to a 4-4 tie with the Florida Marlins in a game stopped after 11 innings on Wednesday.
``Maybe we'll hit him seventh or eighth,' Braves manager Freddie Gonzalez said jokingly.
Hudson, who was named National League comeback player of the year last season following reconstructive elbow surgery, singled and scored in the third inning and singled again in fifth, both off Florida starter Rickey Nolasco.
``I'll be honest with you, running the bases isn't easy for a starting pitcher,' the 35-year-old Hudson said, breaking into a grin.
Hudson, who will make his final spring appearance in a minor league game, had four strikeouts and walked two in his longest outing of the spring.
``All in all, I'm happy,' Hudson said of his preparation for the season.
Dewayne Wise led off the game with a double and came around to score after a wild pitch. Hudson was in charge after that and the Braves took the lead with three runs off Nolasco in the third inning.
Rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman hit his second homer of the spring and Hudson followed with his first hit. After a single by Nate McLouth, Chipper Jones delivered a two-run double with two outs.
Jones, who had knee surgery last August, played nine innings at third base for the first time this spring and is hitting .407 with 13 RBIs.
``Some said I was a question mark, so it's good to have some stats behind me,' Jones said. ``The one thing you want to come out of spring training with is confidence and I've got it.'
Florida took the lead in the seventh on a two-run double by Wise off reliever George Sherrill. The veteran left-hander gave up four hits, walked one and hit a batter in the three-run inning.
Atlanta's Brandon Hicks homered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings. It was the Braves' fourth tie of the spring.
Nolasco worked five innings, allowing seven hits and the three runs in the third inning. He struck out three and walked none.
``I felt like I finally found some rhythm,' said Nolasco, who was roughed up for seven runs in his previous start and lasted just 2 1-3 innings. ``I made some good pitches. In the third inning, I just couldn't get that last out or make that one last quality pitch. But those are things that will come and I was glad I was able to get out of the inning.'
Nate McLouth, who struggled all last season, had a double as well as his single. He has reclaimed his starting job in center field with the Braves and is batting .304.
Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, who will share closing duties for the Braves, each pitched a perfect inning. Venters struck out two in the eighth inning and Kimbrel fanned one in the ninth.
NOTES: Tommy Hanson, who missed his scheduled start Monday against the Mets because of stiff back, allowed two homers and five runs while pitching 5 1-3 innings in a minor league camp game Wednesday. The right-hander gave up eight hits, struck out six and walked none while throwing 96 pitches. ``His back was fine,' Gonzalez said. Hanson is scheduled to start the second game of the season at Washington on April 2. Wise robbed former Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla of extra bases with a catch in deep center field in the fourth inning. Jair Jurrjens will pitch for the Braves on Thursday against Toronto in Dunedin. Javier Vazquez is the Marlins' starter in Jupiter against Boston.
The Associated Press News Service
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