LAWRENCEVILLE - When Tim Hudson had to be scratched at the last minute from his rehab start Friday night, it wasn't good news for Atlanta or Gwinnett.
The mild groin strain will likely delay Hudson's return to the major league rotation and it forced Jonny Venters to take the mound against Rochester at Gwinnett Stadium much earlier than expected.
Considering the circumstances, Venters didn't pitch badly. But the three runs he allowed in the second inning proved too much for Gwinnett to overcome.
Rochester salvaged a split of the four-game series with a 4-2 victory and dropped the G-Braves two games behind first-place Durham in the International League's South Division race after a 9-3 homestand.
Gwinnett (59-48) hits the road for an eight-game trip beginning tonight at Columbus before returning home for a crucial four-game series against Durham (61-46) starting on Aug. 10.
Despite the loss, the G-Braves still lead the IL wild-card race by 11/2 games over Norfolk and Syracuse. Both also lost Friday.
Hudson, coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery, felt his left groin tighten as he warmed up, and he decided it wasn't wise to try to pitch and risk a bigger problem.
"Obviously it's frustrating," Hudson said. "Everything has been going so smoothly up until now. But it's great to know that it's not my arm, and it's something that can be treated and get better pretty quick."
Hudson pitched four scoreless innings for the G-Braves on Monday against Lehigh Valley and he was to work five innings against Rochester in his second rehab start for Gwinnett.
"It started cramping up early on out in the bullpen and as I stretched it out it got worse," Hudson said of his groin. "I didn't hear a pop or anything, but it started affecting my mechanics a little bit."
Hudson said deciding not to pitch was "a little more precautionary than anything" and that "I don't think it's very severe."
He added, "We'll treat it and see where we are in a couple of days."
Hudson, who made two early rehab starts at Class A Myrtle Beach prior to joining the G-Braves, has been targeting a return to Atlanta before the end of August.
Asked if that was still possible, he said, "Sure. Yeah, I think so. I think I was on schedule to come back in the next couple of weeks if this hadn't happened, so I think I'm OK. My arm felt great."
Hudson's next rehab was to be for Class A Rome on Wednesday, but that will likely have to be pushed back.
"I've never had any leg problems before. That's why it's so frustrating," Hudson said. "(But) I use my lower half a lot, so you have to be healthy. You don't want to have something small become something major."
Venters (2-4) had won his last two starts, but he was done in by a bad inning this time. He gave up just six hits in his five innings, but four of them came in the three-run second. The Red Wings (49-55) added a seventh-inning run against Jon Huber and finished the game with 10 hits.
Kevin Mulvey (4-6) and two relievers combined to limit the G-Braves, who had Barbaro Canizares called up to Atlanta just before the game, to five hits. Two of them were by Chris Burke. He had his third homer and a double.
Despite their successful homestand, hitting the road isn't necessarily a bad thing for Gwinnett. The G-Braves are 29-21 on the road compared to 30-27 at home.
· Who: Columbus Clippers (46-58)
· Where: Columbus, Ohio
· When: Today-Tuesday
· Radio: WDUN 550-AM
· Affiliation: Cleveland Indians
· Manager: Torey Lovullo
· Season series: Columbus leads series 1-3
· Clippers update: LF Jordan Brown and 3B Andy Marte are Nos. 2 and 3 in the International League in batting average hitting .333 and .327 on the season. Neither were preseason top prospects in the Indians organization. ... No. 2 preseason prospect and former University of Florida slugger Matt LaPorta is hitting .297 on the season with 13 home runs. ... Not surprisingly the Clippers lead the IL with a .280 team batting average but are last in the IL West 13 1/2 games behind first-place Louisville.
· Did you know? Though both teams opened new stadiums this season, Columbus leads the International League in attendance with 9,441 attending every night, while Gwinnett draws an average of 5,808.
SideBar: Red Wings 4, G-Braves 2
Red Wings 4, G-Braves 2
· What happened: RHP Tim Hudson had to be scratched because of a sore left groin and Gwinnett couldn't recover from a three-run Rochester second inning against substitute starter LHP Jonny Venters (2-4) at Gwinnett Stadium on Friday night.
· Stars of the game: RHP Kevin Mulvey (4-6) and two Rochester relievers held Gwinnett to five hits. Jason Pridie, Jose Morales, Justin Huber and Trevor Plouffe all had two hits for the Red Wings.
· Throwing heat: RHP Juan Morillo had a fastball in the sixth inning recorded at 101 mph on the stadium radar gun.
· Going deep: SS Chris Burke hit his third homer of the season for the G-Braves in the third inning and also had a double.
· Counting the house: The crowd of 6,880 despite heavy pregame rains pushed the G-Braves' home attendance to 332,149 for 57 dates.
· Web gem: Burke made a leaping catch to help Venters work out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning and keep the game close.
· Where's Buddy? RHP Buddy Carlyle will make a rehab appearance at Class A Rome tonight. He was to pitch a fifth time for Gwinnett on Thursday, but a rain delay after he had warmed up prevented that.
· Good-bye Jeff: RHP Jeff Bennett was granted his release by Atlanta. He made two rehab starts for Gwinnett, allowing four runs in two innings.
· On deck: LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (1-1, 4.35 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight at Columbus as the G-Braves open an eight-game road trip. LHP Zach Jackson (4-7, 5.27 ERA) is expected to start for the Clippers in the 7:05 p.m. game. The G-Braves lost three of four games to Columbus at home in June. After the series in Ohio, Gwinnett goes to IL West-leader Louisville for four games beginning Thursday.