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Bullpen fails to close out win again

ATLANTA - With only two home games left, many of the 34,401 fans at Turner Field Friday were probably making their final trip to watch the Braves in 2007. What they saw was a perfect snapshot of a season gone awry.

It had all the classic elements: a stellar performance by Tim Hudson, a Bobby Cox ejection and - most familiar of all - a failure by the Braves to pull out a close game.

Hudson lost his bid for a shutout in the eighth inning, then lost the game when Ron Mahay walked in the go-ahead run in a 4-1 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hudson's line - three runs allowed in 72⁄3 innings - was far from indicative of his performance. He kept the Brewers off the scoreboard for seven frames, preserving a 1-0 lead and extending his scoreless innings streak to 17.

But everything came undone with two outs in the eighth. Milwaukee's Corey Hart tied it with an RBI single off Hudson, and Mahay walked Joe Dillon on four pitches to force in the winning run.

Cox was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Guccione for arguing as he came out to remove Mahay. And Milwaukee went on to score one more run in the eighth and another in the ninth, ending the Braves' winning streak at five games.

Atlanta starting pitchers were credited with the victory in all five of those games, allowing just three earned runs in 322⁄3 innings (0.82 ERA). It was Hudson who started the streak with a complete-game shutout at Washington Sunday, and it appeared he would help extend it to a season-long six games on Friday.

But the Braves (80-74) got only one run in six innings against Milwaukee starter Carlos Villanueva. The right-hander allowed just three hits, walked three and struck out four. And Atlanta was held scoreless by the Brewers' bullpen.

The only run came from Mark Teixeira, who put the Braves up 1-0 in the second inning with his 27th home run and 14th since being traded to Atlanta. The solo shot landed well past the right center field wall, landing just a few rows short of a restaurant beyond the outfield seating.

Milwaukee threatened with runners on first and second in the fifth, but Hudson (16-9) struck out J.J. Hardy to end the inning and retired the side in the sixth.

He did not fare as well in the eighth.

With two outs, Hudson gave up back-to-back singles. And with his pitch count at 111, pitching coach Roger McDowell went out for a visit to the mound.

Hudson remained in the game. And the next batter, Hart, smacked Hudson's 1-2 pitch into short right field for a single.

Tie game.

After Hudson intentionally walked Geoff Jenkins to load the bases, Mahay entered in relief and gave up the walk to Dillon.

Two-to-one Milwaukee.

Cox went out to remove Mahay, but never made it to the mound. Guccione tossed him, then gave the signal himself for Tyler Yates to come in from the bullpen.

Bill Hall hit Yates's first pitch into right field to drive in another run. And although right fielder Jeff Francoeur threw out Jenkins at home to end the eighth, Milwaukee added to its lead in the ninth with an RBI sac fly by Damian Miller.

SideBar: BREWERS AT BRAVES

' When: Today-Sunday

' Where: Turner Field

' Schedule:

' Today, 3:55 p.m. (Fox)

' Sunday, 1:35 p.m. (TBS)