Lock-down Hudson finishes off Padres

AT&T PARK — It may not have been a complete game, but it was still a beauty.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

Tim Hudson turned in one of his best starts of the season, going 8-2/3 innings while giving up just two runs to lead the Giants to a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres Wednesday night.

Hudson gave up five hits — and zero walks — to come just one out short of his first complete game of the season.

Hudson (W, 4-1, 2.17 ERA) was in control all night, keeping his pitches down and forcing 13 ground outs — and six strikeouts — on a night where the ball was unaffected by the usual bay winds.

Manager Bruce Bochy applauded yet another strong outing from the veteran following the game:

“He just put on a clinic…If you had to watch a game and say ‘this is how you wanna pitch’ I think tonight’s game would have been that because he kept the ball down, got us ground balls and attacked the hitters.”

The Giants came into the game leading the league in batting with two outs and runners in scoring position. They continued to deliver in clutch situations, getting themselves on the board in the first inning for the second-straight game.

Outfielder Hunter Pence registered the first hit of the game off starter Robbie Erlin (L, 1-4, 5.83 ERA) with a sharp liner back up the middle for a single. He continued to on to second after gathering his fifth steal of the season.

After a Buster Posey pop-up, team RBI leader Michael Morse would send an opposite-field drive off the bricks in right field, scoring Pence to put the Giants up 1-0 at the end of the first.

Brandon Hicks opened up the second by launching a solo shot that looked playable off the bat but was aided by an unusually warm night at AT&T Park. His shot continuing to sail until it landed on top of the green shingles lining the arcade.

Hicks’ fifth home run of the season would mark the first time the Giants had homered in eight consecutive games since the 2010 season.

The next Giants scoring threat would come in the seventh inning, when Joaquin Arias — who came into the game with a .132 average — got his first hit of the night with a single over second base.

Arias would reach third the hard way, advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Hudson and an infield hit by Pence who legged out a ball to deep short to put runners at first and third for Posey.

Posey would waste no time with reliever Dale Thayer, sending his first pitch back up the middle to give the Giants yet another two-out RBI to put the team up 3-0.

It would take the Padres until the eight inning to score their first run of the contest, their first run in the last two games, when Hudson gave up a double to outfielder Cameron Maybin to open the frame.

Two consecutive ground balls would advance Maybin home and narrow San Diego’s deficit to 3-1.

The Padres played spoiler to what would have been Hudson’s first complete game of the season when catcher Yasmani Grandal smashed a solo shot over the right field wall with two outs in the bottom of the night.

The blast would force Bochy to bring in closer Sergio Romo to close the game out. Romo got pinch hitter Chris Denorfia to ground out to end the game.

Bochy admitted he didn’t want to pull Hudson from the game, but went on to praise what the veteran has been able to accomplish with the club so far:

“I wanted him to get that complete game as bad as anybody. But he did such a nice job out there. He had a great month. He’s been so consistent, so that’s quite a job by him.”

The Giants finish their home stand at 5-1, and now head to Atlanta to take on the Braves beginning Friday for the first of a ten-game road trip.

 Notes

Tonight’s victory kept the Giants atop the NL West while preventing San Diego from earning their first road-series win all season. … The Giants, who came into the game hitting a league high .299 with two outs and RISP, got two of their total three runs tonight in that same scenario. … Wednesday’s win is the Giants’ 17th win in the months of March and April, the most wins the club has had during the opening months of the season since 2003.