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Braves' Hudson homers while earning win No. 200

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson made sure that his 200th career victory was extra memorable.

The 37-year-old right-hander hit his third career home run and allowed one run over seven innings as the Atlanta Braves continued their mastery of the Washington Nationals with an 8-1 victory Tuesday night.

"Someday someone will ask him what he did in his 200th win, and he can say, 'I hit a home run,'" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Nothing surprises me with Huddy."

Hudson said of the milestone and the homer, "It was definitely special. I'm glad I could do it here before my family and all our fans."

Hudson (3-1) is the 113th major-leaguer to reach 200 victories and the third active pitcher to do it, joining the New York Yankees' Andy Pettitte (248) and the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay (201).

"That's about as good as I've seen him pitch," Gonzalez said. "Good for him and good for us. It was fun."

Hudson, who gave up three hits and two walks while striking out six, is 108-66 for the Braves and 200-105 overall, with 16 of the victories coming against the Nationals franchise.

"He pitched a heck of a ballgame," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "You have to tip your hat. That's the best I've seen him use all his pitches."

The Braves, meanwhile, pounded Gio Gonzalez (2-2) for the second time this season, and they have beaten Washington nine straight times dating back to last September.

The loss dropped the Nationals to 4 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East with two games remaining in the four-game series at Turner Field. Atlanta swept a three-game series in Washington in mid-April.

The Braves gave Hudson, making his third try for No. 200, an early cushion, and he added to it with a home run leading off the bottom of fifth inning. Hudson also had a double, and he is batting .429 (6-for-14).

"I believe in, 'Swing hard and maybe you'll hit it,'" said Hudson, a two-way player at Auburn University before being drafted by the Oakland A's. He added of the homer, "I didn't think it had enough."

Hudson didn't allow the Nationals a hit until Tyler Moore opened the top of the fifth with a double. Moore scored on a groundout.

The Braves had given Hudson plenty of runs to work with by then.

Andrelton Simmons, who had three hits, smacked Gonzalez's second pitch of the game for a home run, and a two-out double by Evan Gattis made it 2-0. Gonzalez worked out of a bases-loaded jam to end a 28-pitch first inning, but the Braves scored two more runs in the second and another in the fourth before the left-hander was pulled for a pinch hitter.

Hudson opened the second with a double off the left-center-field wall, and Chris Johnson and Freddie Freeman delivered run-scoring singles. Gattis then delivered his second RBI with a single in the fourth.

Gonzalez allowed five runs, seven hits and five walks, needing 95 pitches to make it through four innings. His ERA jumped to 5.34 with a second straight rough outing against the Braves. He gave up seven runs in five innings in a loss at Washington on April 14.

This time, Gonzalez was alternately bad and good, as his command fluctuated wildly.

"That's one of those games you can't explain," Gonzalez said. "When it's their game, it's their game."

Zach Duke came in to pitch the fifth and was greeted by Hudson's opposite-field homer just over the right field fence. The Braves added two more runs in the inning on a single by Freeman, who had three hits and three RBIs.

Hudson, who is 16-6 with a 2.60 ERA against the Nationals, allowed one run over seven innings while getting victory No. 199 at Washington on April 13. He appeared headed to the milestone last Wednesday in Colorado, but the Rockies overcame a two-run deficit to tie the Braves against closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning and won in the 11th.

"Who cares about a win in Colorado," said Hudson, only half kidding. "This is a lot better."

NOTES: RHP Stephen Strasburg is expected to make his next start as scheduled Saturday at Pittsburgh despite showing discomfort while working six innings in the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves on Monday. Washington GM Mike Rizzo said Strasburg suffered only irritation in his forearm, possibly related to overuse of a muscle-stimulation machine prior to game. ... The Braves placed RHP Luis Ayala on the disabled list because of anxiety brought on by a scare with high blood pressure and recalled RHP David Carpenter from Triple-A Gwinnett. Ayala had made five relief appearances after being acquired from the Orioles and was 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA. ... Nationals RF Jayson Werth didn't play, but he could be back in the lineup as early as Wednesday. He fouled a ball off his left ankle in the eighth inning Monday, and he also had a sore hamstring. ... With Werth out, Bryce Harper moved to right field and Tyler Moore played left. ... Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) began a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac on Tuesday night. He could come off the disabled list Friday in Pittsburgh.
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