Here, ssiscribe talks about the latest Braves game, and details Tim Hudson's upbringing.
ATLANTA - Throughout the winter, Braves Nation pointed to Tim Hudson and shouted, "When will you ever be like the pitcher we saw in Oakland?"
Consider it done.
Using supreme command and helping himself at the plate again, Hudson kept his cool and kept the Braves churning toward a playoff spot in a 6-3 victory over San Francisco.
On a steamy night at Turner Field which saw extensions of Barry Bonds' career home-run record and Bobby Cox's career ejection mark, Hudson was the story. He allowed three runs and eight hits over eight strong innings, added two hits and an RBI and, most of all, didn't lose his cool when first-base umpire Angel Hernandez called two balks on the Braves' right-hander.
The balk calls were the first two against Hudson in his three seasons in Atlanta. The first one resulted in Bobby Cox being ejected, one night after Cox surpassed John McGraw for first place on the all-time ejection list.
The second one prompted Hudson to sprint off the mound toward Hernandez in protest. First baseman Mark Teixeira stopped Hudson, who regained his composure as the crowd at Turner Field hissed its disapproval.
More hissing followed in the sixth when Bonds hit career home run No. 759, a hard blast to deep right-center and the first homer off Hudson in 66 innings. That shot tied the game at 2-2, but the Braves' juggernaut offense roared back to life in the home half of the frame, scoring four times. Andruw Jones continues to show signs of life in his bat, ripping a double past Bonds to the left-field wall, scoring two runs during the rally.
It was plenty enough for Hudson, who improved to 14-5 on the year. He's undefeated since the All-Star break, and in his last five starts the Auburn alum is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
Hudson grew up in Phenix City, Ala., just across the Chattahoochee River from Georgia and only two hours from Atlanta. As a kid, he cheered on the Braves during their emergence as a powerhouse in the early 1990s. The offseason trade to Atlanta from Oakland following the 2004 season was a dream come true, but Hudson battled inconsistency in 2005 and 2006. His 14 wins this season surpasses his total from a year ago and matches his total from 2005. His 3.02 ERA is 1.84 lower than last year.
In six seasons with Oakland, Hudson established himself as one of the top pitchers in baseball. He won more than 15 games four straight seasons, including 20 victories in 2000.
But in his past 10 games, Hudson has been as good as he ever was in the Junior Circuit: 8-0 with a 2.39 ERA. Nine of those 10 have been quality starts. The stretch has vaulted the 32-year-old into the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award.
More importantly, it's kept the Braves in the midst of a wild chase for an NL playoff spot. Wednesday's victory moves the Braves back into second place in the NL East after the Phillies lost at Washington. With San Diego's loss to Colorado, the Braves are just one-half game out of the NL wild-card lead.
Chipper also finished with two hits. Jeff Francoeur scored twice. Bob Wickman gave up a dangerous fly ball with two on in the ninth, but preserved the victory for his 20th save in 26 chances.