Homers back Hudson as Braves shut down Friars

Homers back Hudson as Braves shut down Friars

Homers back Hudson as Braves shut down Friars
ATLANTA -- Right-hander Tim Hudson took the mound Tuesday night at Turner Field with his socks pulled up to his knees. Hudson normally sports his pants legs down, but said he wanted to "tap into the Fountain of Youth" by returning to the style he had worn at college in Auburn and again in the Minor Leagues.

Whether it was Hudson's knee-high socks or something else, he pitched one of his best games of the season. Hudson threw 6 1/3 shutout innings and the Braves beat the Padres, 6-0, in front of 16,427 fans. The victory ended Atlanta's brief two-game losing streak and evened its series against San Diego.

"[Hudson's] one of those guys that extends winnings streaks and stops losing streaks," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "And he did that today."

Hudson didn't allow a hit until former Brave Mark Kotsay punched a single through the left side of the infield to lead off the fifth inning. In all, Hudson allowed just two hits and one walk and struck out four batters.

Hudson said he didn't think he was at his best Tuesday, but felt good even before he threw his first pitch.

"I felt confident that I could give us a good chance to win tonight," Hudson said. "I felt good in the 'pen, and it was one of those days where it translated from feeling good in the 'pen to feeling good out there on the field."

Hudson bounced back from giving up six runs in 4 1/3 innings last Wednesday in Philadelphia with one of his best starts this season. He struggled pitching out of the stretch against the Phillies. On Tuesday, Hudson was able to stay in the windup for all but four batters, but he said he was pleased with the adjustments he made between starts.

"I feel like I'm making better pitches when I am in the stretch," Hudson said. "That was my job this time in between starts to make that adjustment."

Padres manager Bud Black has seen a lot of Hudson over the years. He was the Angels' pitching coach throughout much of Hudson's early career with the A's when he finished in the top six of the American League Cy Young voting three times.

Black said Tuesday was as impressive as he's seen the veteran right-hander.

"I saw him early in his Oakland A's days and that's [Tuesday] as good as I've seen him," Black said. "The fastball had sink to both sides of the plate. He had the backdoor slider going. He was hitting his corners and changing speeds. Tonight was about Tim Hudson."

The Braves quickly gave Hudson a lead to play with. Michael Bourn led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple to right-center field off left-hander Clayton Richard. Two batters later, Freddie Freeman drove Bourn in with a groundout to first.

Bourn said he was just looking to get on base to start the game.

"I was able to hit it on the barrel and find a hole in the outfield," Bourn said. "I was able to keep on going to third once I saw it in the right-center gap."

After the Braves early run, the game appeared to be headed for a pitchers' duel. Hudson retired 10 straight batters after surrendering a two-out walk in the first. Richard retired 11 straight Braves after Bourn's triple and was on his way to becoming the latest left-handed starter to shut down the Braves' potent offense until the middle innings.

The Braves, who are just 20-25 in games started by left-handers, got insurance when Dan Uggla hit a solo home run to left field in the fifth inning and Chipper Jones drove in another run in the sixth.

In the seventh inning, the Braves broke the game open. With runners on second and third and the Padres infield playing in, Martin Prado hit a line drive into the batter's eye off reliever Brad Boxberger to give the Braves a six-run lead. It was Prado's sixth home run of the season and his first since June 20, when he hit one off Phil Hughes at Yankee Stadium.

While the Braves' offense did eventually remove the drama from the end of the game, leaving closer Craig Kimbrel to pitch the ninth just to get work, Bourn said the credit all belonged to Hudson.

"It wasn't nothing else offensively or how we were working the count, he was the MVP," Bourn said. "He was doing everything that kept us in the game."

Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.