MILWAUKEE — Two months ago, Francisco Rodriguez was out of baseball, hoping for a chance to get back to the major leagues.
Given another opportunity by the Brewers in May, Rodriguez has made it pay off. He converted his sixth consecutive save Saturday – the 300th of his career – to help Milwaukee beat Atlanta Braves 2-0 for the second straight day.
Rodriguez went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA during the 2012 season and was released by the Brewers.
“A lot of people thought that I was done,” he said. “In my career, just last year was a really bad year. I know what I am capable of doing.”
Rodriguez gave up one of the Braves’ four hits in becoming the 25th closer to reach the 300-save milestone. He was aided by a barehanded pickup and throw by shortstop Jean Segura to get leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer.
Andrelton Simmons then singled, but Rodriguez got Jason Heyward to line out and Freddie Freeman struck out. After the strikeout, Rodriguez pumped his fist and pointed to the sky.
Rodriguez, who began the season out of baseball, was signed by Milwaukee on May 16. He has converted all six of his save opportunities and has not been scored upon in 15 of his 16 appearances.
“It feels great,” Rodriguez said. “I have to continue working hard and hopefully play for many years to come.”
Rodriguez said Segura’s play to start the ninth inning was key to his success on Saturday.
“It was huge, especially with the score just 2-0,” he said. “Now I can go out there and attack them. That play definitely changed the whole inning.”
Donovan Hand, making his first big league start, allowed only two hits in 4⅔ innings for Milwaukee. He struck out three in helping extend Atlanta’s scoreless streak to 24 innings.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Hand did a great job.
“He really mixed his pitches and threw a lot of strikes,” Roenicke said.
Hand, whose made eight relief appearances this year, said his goal was to pitch three or four innings.
“I felt great out there,” he said. “I kept the ball out of the middle of the plate and gave my team a chance to win.”
Burke Badenhop (1-3) entered after Hand walked Dan Uggla and got Chris Johnson to groundout to end the fifth.
Milwaukee has beaten Atlanta eight straight times at Miller Park, outscoring them 31-9.
Tim Hudson (4-7) lost his sixth straight decision, despite giving up just two runs and seven hits in six innings. He allowed RBI singles to Juan Francisco, in the fourth, and Aramis Ramirez, in the fifth inning.
The Braves have scored just 10 runs in Hudson’s last nine starts. He has not won in those starts, his worst winless stretch of his career since an eight-start stretch in 2002.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves are not swinging the bat well.
“We’re getting on base, but when we do hit the ball hard, it’s at somebody or somebody makes a good play,” he said. “I feel like, at any moment, some of the at-bats that you’re seeing, at any moment you’re going to turn that around.”
Uggla paid tribute to Rodriguez after the game.
“He’s got great stuff,” he said. “He throws hard, got an awesome curveball and an awesome changeup and he throws strikes. He’s done it for a long time.”
NOTES: The Braves last run same in the third inning of their 4-3 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday. ... Brewers RHP Marco Estrada will make a rehab start Sunday at Class A Wisconsin. Estrada has been on the disabled list since June 5 with a strained left hamstring. ... Gonzalez said RHP Brandon Beachy would throw a bullpen session next week as he continues to try to come back from Tommy John surgery in June 2012. He felt tenderness in his pitching arm during his fifth minor league start June 13. ... Brewers OF Caleb Gindl’s pinch-hit single in the sixth inning was his first major league hit. ... Brewers RHP Alfredo Figaro (1-1) will start in the series finale Sunday against Atlanta (LHP) Paul Maholm (7-6).