Hudson, Braves stay hot, beat reeling Astros 4-1Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones follows through with a two-run double in the third inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Atlanta, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA (AP) -- Martin Prado wasn't surprised to see Tim Hudson treating the last-place Houston Astros like a playoff opponent.
''Every time he pitches, we expect that from him,'' Prado said. ''He was so fired up, it was sort of contagious.''
Hudson gave up only four hits and no earned runs in 7 1-3 innings to remain unbeaten in his career against Houston, and the Braves stayed hot with a 4-1 win Friday night that left the Astros with their worst 32-game stretch in franchise history.
The Astros are 3-29 in their last 32 games. Houston's worst 32-game stretch before the 2012 season was 5-27, most recently from June 26 to July 29, 1962 as the Colt .45s, according to STATS LLC.
''It's not a lot of fun, honestly,'' Houston outfielder Jordan Schafer said. ''The reason you play the game is to win. When you just continue to lose and you lose in different ways, you lose by 10, you lose by four, you lose by 15, you lose by one, it's all the same. It gets tiring and annoying after a while. It's not a fun situation to be in.''
The Braves improved to 7-1 on their 10-game homestand and gained ground in the NL East. Atlanta trails first-place Washington by 2 games in the division after the Nationals split a doubleheader with Miami on Friday.
Hudson (11-4) improved to 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in seven career starts against the Astros. He allowed one unearned run, four hits and two walks and has won five straight decisions.
Hudson, 192-101 overall, earned his 100th win with the Braves. He won 92 games with Oakland.
The right-hander gave Atlanta's bullpen a needed break by throwing a season-high 116 pitches.
''I'm glad I was able to go out there and pitch into the eighth and get my pitch count up a little bit,'' Hudson said.
Hudson said he was aware some Atlanta relievers needed a day off.
''Most every game I try to go as deep as I can anyway,'' he said.
Chipper Jones had a two-run double in Atlanta's three-run third inning. The 40-year-old Jones is batting .357 (40-for-112) with 19 extra-base hits and 23 RBIs since June 19, lifting his average to .315.
''I don't think he's human,'' Hudson said of Jones. ''He's a machine.''
Prado had two doubles, including a run-scoring hit in the fourth.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 31st save.
Right-hander Armando Galarraga (0-1) gave up four runs, five hits and a career-high seven walks in 5 1-3 innings. He made his second start with Houston following his recall from Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 28.
Jones' third-inning double drove in Prado, who doubled, and Jason Heyward, who walked. Jones scored when shortstop Marwin Gonzalez lost Dan Uggla's high popup, which dropped in shallow left field for a double.
Prado's RBI double in the fourth gave Atlanta a 4-0 lead.
The Astros scored an unearned run off Hudson in the sixth. Ben Francisco had an infield hit and moved to second on Uggla's throwing error. Francisco scored from third on a groundout by J.D. Martinez.
Tensions rose in the sixth inning as Galarraga and Prado exchanged stares as each backed away during a long at-bat. Prado and catcher Carlos Corporan exchanged words, prompting Michael Bourn, who was on first base following a walk, and first-base coach Terry Pendleton to take a few steps toward the mound. Umpires stepped in to prevent an altercation.
''It was a misunderstanding,'' Prado said, adding he ''heard something I probably didn't understand.''
Galarraga walked Prado on the next pitch and was pulled from the game.
Jim Joyce, who had the blown call that prevented Galarraga from recording a perfect game with the Tigers on June 1, 2010, was the third-base umpire.
Right-hander Mickey Storey recorded two outs in his major league debut following his call-up earlier Friday from Oklahoma City.
Schafer had one hit in his first return to Atlanta since his July 31, 2011 trade from the Braves.
Steve Pearce was scratched from Houston's original starting lineup due to a stiff neck. Francisco replaced Pearce in right field.
NOTES: Houston placed RHP Francisco Cordero on the 15-day DL with an inflamed right big toe. Cordero, who came to Houston on July 20 in a trade with Toronto, is 0-3 with a 19.80 ERA and three blown saves in six games with the Astros. Overall, he has a 7.55 ERA. Manager Brad Mills said RHP Wilton Lopez has assumed the closer's role. ... RHP Chris Devenski is the player to be named later in the trade that sent Brett Myers to the White Sox. Devenski was with Class A Kannapolis this year. ... The Astros acquired RHP Garrett Mock from the Red Sox for future considerations. Mock will report to Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Braves SS Andrelton Simmons had the cast removed from his right hand. He is on the 15-day DL with a broken right little finger and is expected to return in late August. ... LHP Paul Maholm, acquired from the Cubs on Monday night, will make his first start for the Braves on Saturday night against Astros RHP Lucas Harrell.