Hudson fires one-hit gem

Hudson fires one-hit gem

ATLANTA -- It was with a jubilant and playful smirk that Tim Hudson glared in the direction of Marcus Giles. No words needed to be spoken. The close friends knew just how close they had been to experiencing something that much more special than what occurred at Turner Field on Monday night.

Less than two hours earlier, Giles was a few steps away from helping Hudson enter the world of immortality and the veteran second baseman wasn't afraid to discuss what might have been.

"It's not every day you get to see a no-hitter and especially be on the same field when a no-hitter happens," said Giles after Hudson tossed a one-hit shutout and used his bat to help the Braves claim a 2-0 win over an offensively potent Rockies bunch.

During their collegiate days, both Hudson and Rockies starter Jason Jennings were offensive forces, and they both showed they are still quite capable with the bat in the opener of this two-game set. Unfortunately for the Braves ace, he has to live with the fact the two-out, third-inning single he surrendered to Jennings was the only thing that kept him from tossing his first career no-hitter.

"He's probably one of the better hitting pitchers out there," Hudson said. "But he's still a pitcher. He plays only once every five days. It would have been better if it was a cleanup hitter. Then I'd be able to stomach it a little better."

Maybe Jennings, who surrendered seven hits -- all singles -- and two earned runs in seven innings, was just getting some revenge. Just one-half-inning earlier, it was Hudson who provided an RBI single that gave him the only run he would need to secure his second career one-hitter and Major League-high second complete game of the season. "He was a great hitter in college and he was a great hitter since coming over to the National League," Jennings said. "I knew that coming in. I usually treat pitchers just like every other hitter. But a guy like him, I've got to treat extra carefully because he can swing the bat."

When Jennings worked the count to 3-1 against Hudson in the third inning, Giles didn't figured the hurler would do the right thing and hit the ball the opposite way. Thus he positioned himself closer to second base.

Unfortunately for Hudson, Jennings sent the next delivery through the right side of the infield, preventing Giles from attempting to make one of those acrobatic plays that so often occur during a no-hit performance.

"After the ball was hit I had no chance really," Giles said. "Before the pitch was thrown, I wasn't ready to lean to my left a little bit. I'm not saying I would have caught it. But I would have had at least a diving attempt after it."

Primarily using the same filthy sinker that provided him success during the three-hitter he tossed against the Mets on April 19, Hudson had little trouble with the Rockies, who entered the game with the National League's best batting average. He retired each of the final 17 batters he faced and needed just 51 pitches to complete the final five innings.

"He had everything working," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It was just one of his best games ever for me. That's the old Tim Hudson."

Hudson has two complete games in his past three starts. According to catcher Brian McCann, the loss he suffered to the Brewers in between would have been prevented had he not called the wrong pitch to Prince Fielder in Milwaukee's two-run sixth inning.

After comparing tapes of Hudson's days with the A's to some of his recent performances, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell found that the Braves ace needed to straighten his delivery to the plate.

Since making the adjustment, Hudson has found more life to his sinker and has gained the belief that he's putting less strain on the oblique muscles that have caused him to miss time during each of the previous two seasons.

"It's really affected all my pitches," Hudson said. "It's given me more of a downward angle on all of my pitches and I have a lot more action on them. It's not rocket science. But a little bitty adjustment makes a world of difference."

"His stuff he had in Milwaukee was the same stuff he had tonight," said McCann, who began the two-out second-inning rally against Jennings with the first of his two singles.

After the game, McCann was wearing a T-shirt that read, "I rode Bodacious for Nine". The phrase, developed by third base coach Fredi Gonzalez, describes how hard it is for a catcher to be behind the plate when Hudson is at his best and has all of his pitches moving with relative ease.

"It's something fun to laugh about," Hudson said. "Hopefully, I'm not that hard to handle. But I guess it's a good thing. If it's hard for them to catch it, it's probably hard for them to hit it. So I'll take it."

Consecutive one-out walks issued to Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins in the fourth inning, provided the Rockies with their only baserunner to reach second base. They also provided them with their final baserunners of the night.

"He just had a great sinker in tonight, and kept them off balance with the cutter away," Giles said. "You could definitely see he had control of that game from pitch one."

Offensively, the Braves saw Edgar Renteria extend his Major League-best hitting streak to 16 games -- 17 games dating back to last season. Their only other run came in the fourth inning, when Giles followed a Hudson sacrifice bunt with an RBI single.

But Giles didn't leave the stadium thinking about that hit. Instead, he was thinking about the one that he might have prevented.

"I think I'll sleep all right," Giles said. "But I'm not too happy about it. I definitely would have liked to have seen my buddy get a no-hitter. But the way he's throwing, we could see one the next outing and the one right after."

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