Hudson reflects on rain-soaked start

Hudson reflects on rain-soaked start

ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson had long since dried off from Thursday night in Florida as he entered the Atlanta Braves clubhouse on Friday afternoon, ranting about his 90-minute battle through afternoon Buckhead traffic.

But the memory of that fourth inning, and his fending off the Marlins through a steady downpour was still fresh in his mind.

"It was bad," said Hudson, who threw 29 pitches in the inning and left the bases loaded, but with a 3-2 lead. "The worst part was when it first started raining hard, I was holding the ball [behind my back] and it's just pouring on it.

"I finally started holding the ball [against my chest]. Getting the ball in my glove I was covering it up. Even the throw from the catcher to me, the ball was getting soaked."

Hudson recalled that he had been warned by home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth about impending bad weather prior to the start of the inning, and was told to alert him should the mound need repair.

"The mound was never bad. It was just that I was about to drown," Hudson said with a laugh. "The only thing I was thinking was, 'Hurry up and get an out and get out of the inning.'"

The Braves led 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, but after retiring Dan Uggla on a groundout, Cody Ross singled to center. Then the fun began. Catcher Ronny Paulino singled to center, and both runners advanced on a throwing error by center fielder Melky Cabrera. Hudson then got to 2-2 on Cameron Maybin, but, barely able to grip the ball, walked him.

The rain by this point made any kind of control nearly impossible.

"For a while, Huddy didn't have his off-speed stuff," said catcher David Ross. "He couldn't get a good grip on the ball, so we were calling a lot of sinkers and hoping they hit them at somebody."

That strategy backfired when opposing pitcher Ricky Nolasco singled to center, scoring a run and keeping the bases loaded.

In desperate need of a dry area, Hudson resorted to covering the ball as best he could. Leaving the game was never an option, however.

"I didn't want to say, 'I can't pitch,' and they bring the tarp out, and we start the game an hour and a half later, the bases loaded and a reliever comes in," Hudson said. "I thought, 'Shoot, these are my runs. I'm either going to give them up or get out of it.'"

He fell behind 2-1 on Chris Coghlan then came back to strike him out. But, with the downpour continuing, he fell behind 3-0 to Sanchez.

"It was unbelievable how wet it was," Hudson said. "Then I went 3-0 on the guy and I'm thinking, 'Could there be any worse circumstance right now than bases loaded, and a 3-0 count?' The only worse thing was if I'd been struck by lightning. That would have been like the cherry on top."

Fortunately for the Braves, for Hudson and for his family, the only strikes were thrown by the veteran righty, who worked the count full throwing four consecutive four-seam fastballs, the last three fouled off. Then, on pitch No. 29 of the inning and No. 8 of the at-bat, Sanchez hit a line drive to Cabrera, to end the inning.

DeMuth immediately signaled the grounds crew to cover the field and a 77-minute rain delay ensued.

When play resumed, Braves relievers Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner limited the Marlins to one run and five hits the rest of the way, and Atlanta scored in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to post an 8-3 victory.

"It worked out," said Hudson, who got a no-decision. "The only thing that kind of ticked me off was that they didn't make them pitch in it."