BREWERS 3 BRAVES 2
Sparkling infield defense kept Tim Hudson on the mound into the eighth inning, but the Braves scored only two runs -- early solo home runs by Kelly Johnson and CF Gregor Blanco. Then a groundball off Hudson's right foot in the eighth allowed the tying run to score, and the Brewers dinked out the winning run in the bottom of the ninth off Jeff Bennett.
The Braves will be a little unsettled for the next week or two as they absorb the return of three closers: Rafael Soriano, John Smoltz and Mike Gonzalez.
Of the three, Soriano (right elbow tendinitis) seems to be the closest to being activated from the disabled list. Soriano says he is fine, but manager Bobby Cox is cautious because he has observed Soriano fidgeting with the elbow while in the dugout during games.
Gonzalez (Tommy John rehab) pitched in back-to-back games in extended spring training last weekend, then returned to Atlanta for tests and to meet with team physicians. The tests, including X-rays, are being performed not because there is a problem, but to have a point of reference in the event something pops up later. Gonzalez will have to make minor league rehab appearances before his return.
Smoltz, who originally planned to be on the team's current road trip to Milwaukee and Cincinnati, has been set back not by his arm or shoulder or pitches, but by flu-like symptoms. He is now planning at least one appearance, and probably more, with Class A Rome (Ga.), and targeting the next homestand, June 2-8, for a return.
Smoltz continues to decline to give a hard and fast timetable to the press, to avoid a daily soap opera, but he obviously felt compelled to speculate on a local radio show that contracts with him for regular morning drive-time appearances.
Smoltz is experimenting with a lower arm angle -- the only thing that will allow him to pitch without pain -- and is still figuring out which pitches he can count on. Specifically, he wants a particular pitch to move away from left-handed hitters.
A lesser -- or less committed -- athlete wouldn't even have the option of working on such things.
John Smoltz will not be joining the Braves in Cincinnati on the second leg of the current road trip after all, in part because he has come down with a cold and flu-like symptoms. Smoltz now plans to make at least one appearance with Class A Rome (Ga.) and probably more than one appearance as he experiments with what pitches he can rely on while throwing from his lower arm angle. Smoltz outlined his plans Tuesday morning on a local radio station that pays for his regularly scheduled segments.
Mark Kotsay did not start for the second consecutive game due to tightness in his back. Kotsay says he felt it coming on Sunday and sat out Monday as a precaution. The flight to Milwaukee and the cold weather Tuesday did nothing to make his back feel better.
Mike Gonzalez arrived back in Atlanta on Monday after throwing in extended spring training in Florida but couldn't be checked out until Tuesday because of the holiday. The team wants a battery of tests, including X-rays, so it will have benchmarks against which to judge further progress or setbacks.
Matt Diaz sustained a strained posterior cruciate ligament and laceration of his left knee requiring stitches crashing into the left field wall in the bottom of the sixth inning. Diaz will be sent back to Atlanta for an MRI and further evaluation.
No one can explain why it is happening, but Jo-Jo Reyes, Jorge Campillo and Jair Jurrjens all have blisters. All three are nevertheless expected to make their next scheduled starts on this six-game road trip: Reyes (left index finger) on Wednesday against Brewers RHP Jeff Suppan; Campillo (two on right middle finger, one on right index finger) Thursday against Brewers RHP Seth McClung; Jurrjens (right thumb) Saturday against Reds RHP Matt Belisle.
The Braves Report - May 28
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