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Former teammates Hudson, Mulder trade compliments

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ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson spent the earliest years of his career in the same Oakland rotation as Barry Zito and Mark Mulder, a pair of first-round selections who had the potential to have legendary careers. Known as the "Big Three," they drew comparisons with Atlanta's great trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

But Hudson ended up the only member of the trio to be healthy enough and effective enough to be great over an extended period of time.

In leading the Braves to an 8-1 victory over the Nationals on Tuesday night, Hudson became the 110th pitcher in Major League history to record 200 wins. Zito is 36 wins from this mark despite totaling 43 from 2007 to 2011. Mulder's promising career included 103 victories before a series of injuries to his left shoulder forced him to retire.

"You look at [Hudson's] numbers and the years he has had year after year, it's pretty remarkable the way he's won," Mulder said. "Not a whole lot has changed since our Oakland days, to be honest with you. He's still doing a lot of the same things."

Mulder, now an analyst for ESPN, spent some time with Hudson before Wednesday night's broadcast of the contest between the Braves and Nationals at Turner Field. The two pitched together in Oakland from 2000 to 2004.

"I feel very lucky and blessed to have been able to do it," said Hudson. "Mark, he was the best pitcher I had seen. I still say he's one of the best I've seen. His career got cut short with an arm injury. He could be well past 200 right now if he had stayed healthy. Zito has had his problems and struggles for a few years in San Francisco. It seems like he's got his stuff straight. It's just being consistent. It's hard to have a few bad years in a row and accomplish something like that. I'm just lucky."

Hudson's most significant setback came when he missed the final two months of the 2008 season and first five months of the 2009 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the 37-year-old right-hander has continued to be one of the game's top pitchers since returning to Atlanta's rotation.

Hudson has recorded 54 wins and a 3.25 ERA in the 108 starts he made since returning from the surgery on Sept. 1, 2009. The only Major League pitchers with more wins during that span are Justin Verlander (67), CC Sabathia (63), Roy Halladay (57), Gio Gonzalez (56) and David Price (55).

"To play 10 or 15 years in the league, you have to re-invent yourself a time or two along the way," Hudson said. "That's something [you have] to do just in order to stay on top of yourself and the physical injuries that you come across throughout your career."

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

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