Hudson takes battle of stars

Brave outduels ace for Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO --- Tim Hudson understood why he had to come out when he was so close to a complete game victory.

Still, that didn't make it any easier to actually leave.

Hudson outdueled Tim Lincecum and nearly pitched his first complete game this year, leadoff man Martin Prado drove in Atlanta's first three runs and the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Saturday to secure just their third series win of the season.

"It's pretty disappointing. Obviously to go out and get two outs in the ninth, you want to finish it," Hudson said. "My pitch count got up there and I was laboring a little bit. But I'm not a guy who takes a lot of pride in complete games."

Hudson (3-2) followed up Tommy Hanson's strong outing a night earlier with his own impressive performance in a matchup of two undersized, hard-throwing righties.

Hudson allowed nine hits, struck out four and didn't walk a batter in an efficient, 112-pitch outing. Manager Fredi Gonzalez left Hudson in to start the ninth but he gave up Pat Burrell's leadoff double and a sacrifice fly to Miguel Tejada.

Lincecum (2-2) was tagged for five runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings after he carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning Monday at Colorado. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner also walked a career-high six and struck out six.

Brian McCann added a two-run single in the seventh off Javier Lopez to end an 0 for 10 drought and further back Hudson. This outing was reminiscent of the pitcher's dominant days across San Francisco Bay as a member of Oakland's "Big Three" -- with Hudson still hitting 91 mph on the radar gun even at the end.

"It's a lot of fun to come out and pitch in front of a packed crowd, against the defending champs and one of the best pitchers going right now," Hudson said. "It'll be nice to come in tomorrow and go for the sweep."

Atlanta's No. 3 starter had made it only six innings in his previous two outings.

While his only clean innings came in the first and sixth, he was helped by two double plays. Hudson had only thrown 72 pitches through six, 23 fewer than Lincecum.

"He's probably a little mad at me I took him out. We gave him an opportunity," Gonzalez said. "Huddy was outstanding."

Craig Kimbrel retired pinch hitter Buster Posey on a flyball to center for the final out for his sixth save in seven chances.


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