Braves win behind Hudson's strong effort

Braves win behind Hudson's strong effort

Braves win behind Hudson's strong effort
ATLANTA -- Coming off a once-promising road trip that was marred by a disappointing conclusion, the Braves received exactly what they needed from their opportune offense and Tim Hudson's steady right hand.

Proving capable of being the reliable stopper that he has been throughout his successful career, Hudson delivered a sparkling eight-inning effort and also aided the Braves offense in a 8-1 win over the recently-streaking D-backs.

"Every time I go out there, whether we're winning or losing, I want to keep the winning streak going or stop the losing streak from continuing," Hudson said. "I take a lot of pride in it. I think everybody should. As a starter on a big league staff, you should be the kind of guy who wants to stop bad things from happening or bad things from continuing to happen."

Along with halting a two-game losing streak, Hudson altered a mood that had soured when Randall Delgado and Mike Minor turned in disappointing starts during the final two games of this past weekend's series in Boston. Instead of being able to enjoy the fact they had split a six-game trip against the Yankees and Red Sox, the Braves returned to Atlanta with a sour taste in their mouth.

But with Hudson flirting with his second complete game of the month and every position player besides Dan Uggla notching at least two hits, the Braves began this 10-game homestand in celebratory fashion. Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman led the offensive charge with three-hit performances.

Hudson's offensive contributions came courtesy of a sixth-inning single that centerfielder Geraldo Parra appeared to lose in the lights. One inning later, he notched a sacrifice fly after fouling off a squeeze-bunt attempt.

"This is like the fifth or sixth day in a row we've had the same group of characters," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "They're swinging the bats. But for me, it all starts with the guy on the mound. He gives you the opportunity to win a ballgame."

This marked the sixth straight game in which the Braves have scored at least four runs. While that margin was not significant enough for Delgado or Minor, it was plenty for Hudson, who allowed just one run and seven hits while throwing 101 pitches. He is now 7-0 with a 1.33 ERA in nine career starts against Arizona.

It certainly did not appear that Hudson was going to go deep into the game when he needed 41 pitches to complete the first two innings. But given a five-run lead by the end of the second inning, he became more aggressive, and needed just 30 pitches from the start of the third inning through the end of the sixth.

After Jason Kubel homered with two outs in the third inning, Hudson did not allow another D-backs player to touch second base.

"He did some really efficient work through the middle innings to really keep his pitch count down and take us deep," Jones said. "You want your big guns to go six, seven or eight innings. It looked like he wasn't going to be able to make it. But he made adjustments and got double plays when he needed them."

Instead of matching the complete-game effort he produced with his five-hit shutout against the Marlins on June 5, Hudson did not even attempt to lobby to pitch the ninth inning. Two weeks shy of his 37th birthday and dealing with some bone spurs in his left ankle, he probably was wise.

"I'm not a complete game type of guy," Hudson said. "I just go out there and pitch until the manager takes me out. I feel like I could have finished it. But we don't have any offdays between now and the All-Star break."

Michael Bourn's third leadoff home run of the season accounted for the only first-inning damage done by the Braves, who widened their lead after Jones and Freeman opened a four-run second inning with consecutive opposite-field doubles. Andrelton Simmons then followed with an opposite-field single to add to the woes of D-backs starter Daniel Hudson, who would later exit the inning with tightness in his right forearm.

Freeman hit the ball the opposite way twice on the way to recording his first three-hit game since June 10. Jones' three-hit performance was his first since he notching this total three times during the first five days of May.

Jones missed nearly three weeks after suffering a bad left calf bruise on May 18. This proved to be his most productive game since returning from the disabled list on June 10.

"I lost a lot of momentum with that injury," Jones said. "I was feeling good from both sides of the plate, and just lost it. I'm just now getting back to where I'm centering balls on both sides of the plate to all fields. That's a good feeling."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.