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Braves start set with lowly Astros

The chances of the Atlanta Braves continuing their success are likely with Tim Hudson on the mound tonight in the opener of a three-game series versus the Houston Astros at Turner Field.

Hudson has a pair of streaks he would like to keep intact, as he is 4-0 with a 3.19 earned run average in his last five starts -- all Atlanta wins -- and 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA in six starts lifetime against the Astros.

The veteran right-hander last appeared in a 6-2 win over Philadelphia on Sunday and held the rival Phillies to two runs and two hits in seven innings to improve to 10-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 17 starts this season. Hudson, who is 5-3 in 10 home starts, is victorious in six of his last seven decisions.

Atlanta just won three of four meetings with the Miami Marlins and is coming off Thursday's 6-1 win in which Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman both contributed two RBI. Jason Heyward had three hits and two runs scored for the Braves, who won for the eighth time in nine tries and are 6-1 on a 10-game homestand.

Braves reliever Cristhian Martinez earned the win with three innings of relief behind starter Mike Minor, who tossed 3 2/3 scoreless frames before being forced to leave the game following a 42-minute rain delay.

"It's an inconvenience and that's about all it is," Braves infielder Dan Uggla said of the rain delay. "You can't do anything about it. You try and get your focus back when the game starts up and strap it on."

Jones, meanwhile, tied Gary Sheffield for 65th place on the all-time hits list (2,689) and has hit safely in 26 of his last 30 games. Freeman is batting .368 with three homers, 18 RBI and a .455 on-base percentage since July 5.

The Braves are still within striking distance of Washington for the NL East lead, sitting only 2 1/2 games off the pace.

Houston is headed in the opposite direction and is a major league-worst 35-71 on the season. It is only 3-28 in its last 31 games and was just swept in three games at Milwaukee.

The Astros were pounded, 13-4, in Wednesday's series finale at Miller Park, as Jordan Lyles put his club in a big hole by yielding nine runs, seven of which were earned, and nine hits in five innings.

Brett Wallace recorded the first multi-homer game of his career for the Astros, who had more errors (four) over the first four innings on Wednesday than they had wins in the month of July (three). Wallace finished 3-for-4 and Marwin Gonzalez had two hits in defeat.

"Since I've been back, the biggest thing has been getting comfortable back in the lineup and being back up here," Wallace said. "I definitely felt like I found that rhythm up there. I definitely wish we could have gotten a win today, but it felt good to contribute, and hopefully I can keep it going and contribute to some wins."

The Astros, who were outscored by a 31-12 count against the Brewers, are winless in their last nine road games and sport a lowly 10-44 mark away from Minute Maid Park this season.

Armando Galarraga will make his second start of the season for the 'Stros tonight and did not record a decision in his debut on July 28 in a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh. He lasted five innings and allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits. The right-hander has never faced Atlanta in his career and went 3-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts between Single-A Lexington and Triple-A Oklahoma City this season.

Houston dropped two of three meetings to Atlanta at home back in early April and is 3-13 in the previous 16 matchups between the two clubs.