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10/10/10 10:58 PM ET

Hudson shows he's up to task in Game 3

Braves starter denied long-awaited win despite strong effort

ATLANTA -- With his offense doing nothing and the defense behind him spotty at times, Braves starter Tim Hudson hurled a gem at Turner Field on Sunday night.

Tabbed as Atlanta's Game 3 starter, the right-hander did just as he has done for the club most of the season. Making his shaky September appear inconsequential, Hudson gave the Braves seven strong innings that were marred only by four hits, four walks and one unearned run.

Yet it was overshadowed by the ending. And it wasn't good enough.

"That's what happens when you face a tough pitcher," Hudson said, tipping his cap to Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez. "He's been good all year. We knew it was going to be a tough task from the start. The game shook out probably how a lot of people anticipated."

The fact that Hudson would be able to gut out seven innings seemed unlikely after the first two. A pair of errors by second baseman Brooks Conrad -- the second of which led to San Francisco's early run -- left Hudson on the mound much longer than anyone in Atlanta's dugout would have liked.

Just two innings into his start, Hudson's pitch count sat at 40.

But a 12-pitch third and nine-pitch fourth allowed Hudson to settle back in. He retired eight straight at one point and allowed only runner to advance into scoring position after the second.

Such efficiency and minimal middle-inning trouble allowed the right-hander to get through seven innings with a final pitch count of 106.

"I battled a little bit there in the first couple of innings," Hudson said. "But I got my pitch count back down and got me to where I was able to pitch into the seventh inning."

Even still, Hudson exited with the Braves trailing, 1-0. He left, too, as owner of Atlanta's only hit against Sanchez through seven innings. Hudson dropped a single into right field to halt Sanchez's no-hit bid.

Only Eric Hinske's pinch-hit homer in the eighth assured Hudson that he wouldn't be in line for a bad-luck loss.

Though this marked Hudson's sixth career postseason appearance, the right-hander still has only one win to his name. That came in Oakland's American League Division Series matchup against the Yankees in 2001. Much like Sunday, however, Hudson seems to have deserved a better fate, with a respectable postseason ERA of 3.46.

"This is why you play the game," Hudson said of pitching in the playoffs. "It's why you work so hard in the offseason, why you battle so hard during the season. I enjoy it."

He'll have to rely on his teammates for at least one more chance. Sunday will mark Hudson's final start of 2010 unless the Braves can find a way to advance to the NL Championship Series by way of two straight wins.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.