Hudson settles down, puts clamps on Fish

Hudson settles down, puts clamps on Fish

Hudson settles down, puts clamps on Fish
MIAMI -- Tim Hudson might not be the dominant pitcher he was during the earlier stages of his career. But the Braves right-hander certainly has not lost any of the competitive fire that has served as one of his greatest assets.

After encountering some trouble during the first two innings of Tuesday night's 4-3 win over the Marlins, Hudson enjoyed a dominant stretch that gave the Braves a chance to erase an early deficit and snap a three-game losing streak.

"When he gets upset after giving up the run in the first, that outing is not forgotten," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's still going to battle, stay in the game and hang around longer than the other guy to get a chance to win."

Hudson allowed the Marlins to gain a 3-1 lead on Jose Reyes' two-run home run in the second inning, and then concluded his seven-inning effort by retiring each of the final 16 batters he faced.

"You've got to stop the bleeding," Hudson said. "It's one of those things where you just try to not allow it to get away. You've got to keep them within striking distance any way that you can."

The Braves rewarded Hudson's effort by taking advantage of Mark Buehrle's rare control problems and finally grabbing the lead for good after Martin Prado opened the seventh inning with a triple to right-center field off Wade LeBlanc. Jason Heyward followed with an RBI single that proved decisive.

Heyward also accounted for the game's first run when he produced a sacrifice fly after Michael Bourn opened the game by drawing one of the season-high four walks issued by Buehrle. The Marlins left-handed pitcher had not issued more than two walks in any of his previous starts this season.

Buehrle issued two walks, including one to Freddie Freeman with the bases loaded, in the third inning, and allowed a pair of singles before Martin Prado tied the game in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly.

"Walking four guys, obviously, that's not me," Buehrle said. "I hate walking guys as it is. A bases-loaded walk to bring in a run, it's kind of embarrassing. It's just one of those days I didn't have stuff."

Hudson was charged with three earned runs and five hits in seven innings. The 37-year-old right-hander, who has battled left ankle discomfort throughout the season, was lifted after throwing just 80 pitches. Given he had also been on base twice, Gonzalez did not want to take any chances.

Though his ankle has shown great improvement over the past couple of weeks, Hudson did not fight the decision.

"Every time we try to push him through that kind of stuff, he has a little bit of a setback," Gonzalez said. "It has nothing to do with pitch count. It has more to do with a feel thing for him. He's one of those guys, he'll fight you if he feels good. When he came off the field, I said I'm going to put [Eric] O'Flaherty in for the eighth, and he said, 'OK.'"

Dan Uggla was fortunate that he was able say he was OK after getting hit on the left ear flap by Chad Gaudin's 92-mph fastball in the seventh inning. Uggla barely flinched before making his way to first base after a short visit from assistant trainer Jim Lovell.

"He never even took a standing eight-count," Gonzalez said. "I told him to be honest with us and check with us because you know [concussions] can flare up in the middle of the night. But he says he's fine. He told me it probably hit him in the best spot, his head."

After being granted a one-run advantage before he threw his first pitch, Hudson labored through an eventful 17-pitch first inning. Reyes got things started with a bunt single, and Hanley Ramirez capped the inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single that would have scored two runs if plate umpire Laz Diaz had not ruled Justin Ruggiano out as he attempted to score from second base.

Replays indicated Ruggiano crossed the plate before David Ross secured Michael Bourn's throw and applied the tag. Coincidentally, Diaz had drawn the ire of the Braves when he ruled Heyward out on a close play at first base during the ninth inning of Monday night's loss.

"Obviously I think everybody gets upset or ticked off when things don't start out the way they want them to," Hudson said. "They start the game off with a bunt base hit and they got me in a jam in that first inning. They caused some problems and took advantage of it."

Hudson's troubles were extended to the second inning when Reyes drilled his two-out, two-run home run down the right-field line. The Marlins shortstop caught the attention of some Braves players by the way he stopped to watch whether his home run would stay fair.

"I didn't even notice," Hudson said. "I heard about it from a few guys. That's how some guys like to play the game. It's not my cup of tea. I'm just worried about winning the ballgame. We'll face these guys a lot more. I'll face him a lot more and we'll see what happens."

When Hudson surrendered Reyes' home run, he had surrendered hits to half of the 10 batters he faced. But just when it looked like he might make an early exit, he retired 11 of the final 16 batters he faced via ground balls and recorded one strikeout during that span.

"After the first couple innings, he was outstanding," Gonzalez said. "He gave us a great chance to win the ballgame. He was great."

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