Hudson handles Houston, wins 100th for Atlanta

Hudson handles Houston, wins 100th for Atlanta

Hudson handles Houston, wins 100th for Atlanta
ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson reached an Atlanta milestone on Friday night, although he didn't know it until told afterward.

Atlanta is closing in on first-place Washington in the National League East race, and that is all that really matters at the moment.

Hudson won his 100th game with the Braves, and the 4-1 victory at Turner Field moved them to within two games of the Nationals, who split a doubleheader at home with the Marlins.

Hudson threw a season-high 116 pitches while allowing four hits and an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings, as he improved to 11-4 and won his fifth straight decision.

"If I don't get into at least the seventh inning, I don't think I've done my job," said Hudson, whose career record is 192-101.

Hudson is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in seven career starts against the Astros, but they certainly aren't the only team he has pitched well against.

"He brings that intensity every game," said Martin Prado, who had a pair of doubles for the Braves.

Atlanta's bullpen needed a break after covering 15 2/3 innings in the water-logged four-game series with Miami that ended Thursday. Hudson provided it.

"I thought he got stronger as the game went on," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He did a terrific job."

Chipper Jones, who got the Atlanta offense going with a two-run double in the third inning, admitted before the series opener with Houston that an 8-2 homestand wouldn't be anything that the Braves could get upset about.

"But let's go for 9-1 and put some pressure on the Nationals," said the future Hall of Famer, pointing to a sweep of Houston.

Hudson is 37 years old, and Jones, in his final season, is 40. But neither is showing his age at the moment.

Jones is batting .357 since June 19, and has hits in 27 of his past 31 games. His double gave him 2,690 career hits, breaking a tie with Gary Sheffield for 65th on the all-time list.

"I don't think he's human," Hudson said. "He's a machine."

The Braves are heading in one direction and the Astros the other.

Atlanta is 15-6 since the All-Star break after sweeping Philadelphia and taking three of four from Miami to start the homestand. The Astros, in contrast, have lost 29 of their past 32 games and were swept in their four previous three-game series since the break.

Armando Galarraga's career has been in decline since the infamous Jim Joyce near-perfect game in Detroit in 2010, and he labored in his second start for the Astros as the umpire worked third base instead of first base this time.

The frustration showed in the sixth inning as Galarraga got into a jawing match with Prado shortly before issuing his seventh walk and exiting the game.

"It was a misunderstanding," Prado said. "I thought I heard him say something."

"A couple of boys in the sandbox," Gonzalez said of the brief incident.

Prado was given the night off on Thursday, and he responded by going 2-for-3 with two doubles, two walks, a run scored and an RBI.

"It was hard for me to understand," Prado said of sitting out the series finale against Miami. "But I guess the break helped."

Left-handed reliever Wesley Wright replaced Galarraga in the sixth inning and was able to keep the score from getting out of hand by retiring Jason Heyward and Jones with the bases loaded. It was the second time in the game that the Braves left three on.

After failing to take advantage of a trio of first-inning walks by Galarraga, Atlanta took a 3-0 lead in the third. The final run was a gift.

Jones followed a double by Prado and a walk to Heyward with his two-run double. Then Dan Uggla, after a two-out intentional walk to Brian McCann, lifted a high pop behind shortstop. Marwin Gonzalez lost the ball in the lights and the struggling Uggla was credited with an RBI double.

Prado's RBI double in the fourth inning increased the lead to 4-0 before the Astros cut the deficit back to three with an unearned run in the sixth that was set up by Uggla's throwing error on an infield hit by Ben Francisco.

Eric O'Flaherty got the final two outs of the eighth inning after Hudson issued a walk, and Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to record his 31st save.

Paul Maholm, acquired from the Cubs, will make his debut for the Braves on Saturday night in the middle game of the weekend series with the Astros, and that is more bad news for Houston.

The left-hander is 12-6 for his career against the Astros, and he came to Atlanta from Chicago with victories in his last five decisions.

A win on Saturday and another on Sunday will give the Braves the 9-1 homestand that Jones wanted.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.