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CIN@ATL: Hudson fans five over seven innings vs. Reds

The first half of the season for the Braves and the White Sox told dramatically different tales.

Chicago finished with the second-worst record in the American League, while Atlanta had the third-best mark in the National League. These diverging clubs will collide as part of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.

Part of the problem for the White Sox stems from an inability to generate much offense. The club has outscored only one team in the Majors, the Marlins, which is a far cry from this time last year, when the team was among the top 10 in the league in scoring and leading the AL Central.

"Not good," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his club's first half. "The record speaks for itself. Nobody is happy.

"These will be a good four days for these guys. Just go home and do whatever they are going to do and then come back ready to go. You can go home and clear your mind."

The break will also do wonders for the Braves, but for a different reason. Atlanta is a little beat up, with a handful of players nursing some minor ailments.

"Right now, anybody that kind of flinches a little bit or grabs something, you start getting scared," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "The All-Star break, hopefully these four days, we get some guys healthy and start back against the White Sox, start going again.

"We lost a lot of key players, but the guys that stepped in did a terrific job for us."

Trying to continue his club's first-half momentum will be Tim Hudson, who will take to the mound to start the second half against John Danks.

Hudson struggled during May, but has found his form over the past month and a half. Over his last eight starts, the veteran right-hander has allowed more than three earned runs only once, and has posted a quality start in seven of those contests.

His last time out, Hudson held Cincinnati to three earned runs over seven innings, and used his offspeed pitches effectively.

"From the third or fourth inning on, I felt a lot more comfortable throwing some offspeed pitches for strikes," Hudson said. "Obviously when you get a lead, it's a lot easier to go up there and try to execute pitches and be more aggressive in the strike zone."

White Sox: Peavy nearing a return
• Starter Jake Peavy is nearing his return from a left rib fracture and is slated to make his first start since June 4 on Saturday.

Peavy started for Double-A Birmingham on Sunday, and threw 57 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

"The biggest thing was the strength and stamina in this heat with limited cardio work because of the injury," Peavy told a pool reporter. "I got my body through the fatigue and [lack of] strength part of it.

"Sharpness and command got away in the fourth and fifth innings when I walked those [two] guys. That's in part to the fatigue factor. To be honest with you, it was tough to get the adrenalin going. I had more adrenalin going in the simulated game. There weren't many fans in the stands, and it was hot."

Peavy could be showcasing his talents with the possibility of getting traded to a contender before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

"My arm strength needs to get better, but I think I can get my feel back," said Peavy. "I'm ready to pitch."

Braves: B.J. Upton to DL, Gattis returns
• Evan Gattis returned to the Braves in the club's first-half finale vs. the Reds, but B.J. Upton took his place on the disabled list.

"It feels better today, but obviously it's not going to be a thing that just happens immediately," said Upton, who strained his right adductor muscle in Friday's game. "I guess we have to wait it out and see.

Freddie Freeman had to sit out the All-Star Game after earning the final spot in the fan vote, but he has gained mobility in his sore thumb recently and could return this weekend.

"It's still a little tight inside, but it feels great," Freeman said, while wearing a black brace that has stabilized the thumb since he jammed it while tagging Cincinnati's Chris Heisey during the first inning of Saturday's game at Turner Field.

Worth noting
• Atlanta's 54 wins are tied the seventh-most in franchise history before the All-Star break. The franchise record is 61, set in 2003.

• The White Sox have not won consecutive series since May 20-22 vs. the Red Sox and May 24-26 vs. the Marlins.

• All-Star reliever Jesse Crain did not pitch in the All-Star game due to a sprained right shoulder.

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