Photo: Neon Tommy/Flickr
ATLANTA (AP) — Tim Hudson isn’t about to make a case for ending baseball’s designated hitter rule.”No, no,” he said. “We (stink), honestly. I was hitting .040 coming into this game.”
Hudson pitched eight scoreless innings and hit his second career home run in the Atlanta Braves’ 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.
Hudson (6-6) allowed two hits, one walk and struck out a season-high eight, including the 1,600th of his career. He took Ricky Romero (6-7) deep to make it 2-0 with two outs in the seventh.
“It’s hard to say there’s anything better,” Hudson said. “Obviously, you (nearly) throw a shutout and hit a homer, you win the game. It was fun, man, It was a lot of fun.”
Toronto has lost two straight and five of seven.
Hudson retired 20 straight batters before Mike McCoy walked to lead off the ninth and advanced to second on Yunel Escobar’s infield single.
Closer Craig Kimbrel struck out Corey Patterson, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind to earn his 20th save in 25 chances.
“Kimbrel’s just got overpowering stuff,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “He shut us down right there.”
Bautista, who began the game leading the major leagues with a .483 on-base percentage, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to snap a streak of reaching base in 24 straight games.
Toronto hadn’t been shut out since losing 9-0 at home to Detroit on May 7. But the Blue Jays were nearly punchless against Hudson, who had gone 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA in his previous seven starts — a streak that began with a one-hit home shutout of Milwaukee on May 4.
Romero escaped trouble with runners in scoring position during the first, second, fourth and sixth innings but he made a mistake with a fastball to Hudson, whose homer landed in the seats in left field.
Hudson became the first pitcher to homer against Toronto since Felipe Lira hit one out against David Wells on July 8, 2000, at Montreal.
Romero, who allowed six hits, two runs, two walks and struck out four in seven innings, has lost three of four starts despite a 3.23 ERA. The left-hander believes the Blue Jays must stop relying too much on Bautista and Lind to drive in runs.
“Those guys are getting pitched around, so everyone’s got to step it up or else we’re not going to keep winning ballgames,” Romero said. “We’re going to keep losing ballgames like this. Like I said, this team doesn’t revolve around one or two guys. Everyone’s got to put in their part. That’s how we win ballgames.”
The Braves paused the game for a few seconds to acknowledge Hudson’s 1,600th career strikeout when J.P. Arencibia whiffed in the fifth. The 13-year veteran got his first career curtain call in the seventh.
“Romero was really good,” Hudson said after raising his batting average 31 points to .071. “He had a good heater. I knew he was going to throw me a fastball. He threw it middle in. I just threw the head at it. Squared it up.”
Hudson, who hit his first career homer on Sept. 12, 2009, at St. Louis, bailed out his team after David Ross was thrown out at home on Diory Hernandez’s fielder’s choice grounder.
“I was all down because I got thrown out at the plate,” Ross said. “Next thing I hear a big crack. I thought, that sounded good. I turn around and he’s trotting around the bases like an old man. That’s as fun as it gets.”
Romero insisted he felt no letdown after Ross was retired for the second out and he had the pitcher coming up.
“Not really,” Romero said. “You still have to make your pitches. Tim is a good hitter, and obviously I wasn’t going to let up. It was just a fastball away, and he hit it.”
When manager Fredi Gonzalez came to get him in the ninth, Hudson tipped his cap to a standing ovation.
Hudson, who improved to 3-3 with a 2.60 ERA at Turner Field, made 89 pitches through his first eight innings.
“It was nice to go out there and feel good and feel like everything was under control and in sync,” he said. “Just made a couple little adjustments from the last start. The last few weeks I haven’t really felt like I wanted to.”
Notes: Braves LF Martin Prado is still recovering from surgeries to treat a staph infection and doesn’t know when he can resume baseball activities. … Gonzalez said RHP Brandon Beachy, on the 15-day DL since May 15 with a left oblique strain, will start Wednesday. … Braves SS Alex Gonzalez doubled in the sixth to snap an 0-for-19 streak. … Escobar, who signed a two-year contract extension Sunday worth $10 million, was booed lightly before each at-bat. The Braves traded Escobar to Toronto last year after he clashed with former manager Bobby Cox.
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