It took the Braves seven full innings before breaking up Jason Bergmann's no-hit bid against them in Monday night's series opener. But it took them just three batters on this night to give Hudson a two-run lead courtesy of Edgar Renteria's first-inning, two-run homer off Nationals starter Jerome Williams.
"With Huddy on the mound, when you get two runs on the board in the first, you feel like you're going to beat them 2-0," Cox said. "That's the feeling that I have because he's that good."
Renteria added a seventh-inning solo shot to cap his second two-homer game of the season. But this night, like so many others this year, belonged to Hudson, who allowed one run and three hits over seven innings. His 1.77 ERA ranks third in the National League.
While retiring the first 14 batters that he faced, Hudson recorded 11 groundouts and two strikeouts. Of the 21 outs he registered on the evening, only two of them were recorded in the outfield.
"I had a really good sinker in the bullpen," Hudson said. "Coming in, it was just one of those things that I was going to throw it until they showed me they could handle it."
Hudson's perfect game bid was thwarted when he issued a six-pitch walk to Brian Schneider with two outs in the fifth inning. Former Braves Robert Fick and Ryan Langerhans followed with consecutive hits to erase both the no-hit and shutout bids.
This marked the fifth time in his nine starts this year that Hudson has carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning. He has thrown two one-hitters in his career, with the most recent occasion coming on May 1 of last year.
Hudson, who has worked at least seven innings in eight of his nine starts and allowed two runs or less on seven occasions, says he never lets himself get consumed with the thought of a perfect game or no-hitter.
"I don't really concern myself with all of that," Hudson said. "I'm not a control guy. I'm going to give up my share of walks and I'm going to give up my share of swinging-bunt hits and doubles in the gaps. So I'm not really concerned with all of that. If it were to ever happen, I was just really lucky that day."
When Hudson's 84-pitch outing concluded, Mike Gonzalez was brought in to protect a 6-1 lead. He surrendered an eighth-inning leadoff triple to Nook Logan and was immediately met at the mound by Cox and Braves head athletic trainer Jeff Porter. They were concerned because the left-handed reliever's fastball wasn't exceeding 82 mph.
After surrendering a one-out sacrifice fly to Tony Batista, Gonzalez headed to the clubhouse to have his left elbow examined. He wasn't feeling any discomfort, but the lack of velocity troubled the hard-throwing southpaw, who missed the final month of last season with tendinitis in his left elbow.
"I don't know how to explain it," Gonzalez said. "I'm kind of confused myself. I didn't feel any pain."
Williams, who was making his first start since spraining his left ankle on April 28, surrendered four straight singles, including one to Renteria, to begin the Braves three-run third inning. This prompted his early exit and led to a medical analysis that determined that his right shoulder soreness was a product of a rotator cuff strain.
Renteria's seventh-inning homer off Ray King was his sixth of the season. The All-Star shortstop has hit safely in 20 of his past 21 games.
"We knew if we could get some early runs, Huddy would be more comfortable pitching," Renteria said.