SAN DIEGO -- If Tim Hudson looked awkward as he entered Sunday afternoon's game against the Padres at PETCO Park, it was because he felt that way.

"I didn't know what to do," Hudson said. "I was like, 'Do I run? Or do I jog? Or do I walk?' So I kind of did all three."

By the time Hudson had figured out how he wanted to make his entrance from the bullpen, he was able to work his normal magic on the mound. Making the first regular-season relief appearance of his career, the Braves ace worked a perfect eighth inning and helped his team claim a 12-3 win over the Padres.

Hudson had started Wednesday in Los Angeles and isn't slated to pitch again until Friday, when the Braves return from the All-Star break to host the Nationals. Basically, this relief appearance, which came with the Braves leading 9-2, served as the substitute for a bullpen side session.

"The bullpen [session] would have been good enough," said Hudson, who has made each of his other 301 career appearances as a starter. "But it was nice to go out there and get some work at game speed."

Hudson can definitely say he was treated much better entering this relief appearance than he had been during his only other similar experience. That experience came when he was summoned from the bullpen in the fifth inning of Game 5 of the 2001 Division Series at Yankee Stadium.

As he prepared to relieve Mark Mulder, Hudson didn't know how to slyly make his way to the mound. So he simply walked and when he did, the Yankee Stadium crowd showered him with boos.

"It took me like five minutes to get to the mound," Hudson said. "I had no idea why they were booing me so loud. Then when I got to the mound, [then-A's manager Ken] Macha was like, 'What the heck, Huddy?'"