Hudson pitches 11th career shutout

ATLANTA - Tim Hudson pitched his 11th career shutout and Brian McCann hit a two-run homer, helping the Atlanta Braves end a season-high four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

Hudson (4-2) gave up just three hits, and at one point retired 11 straight batters before Edwin Encarnacion singled leading off the eighth. Encarnacion went to second on Yunel Escobar's throwing error, the first Cincinnati batter to get past first, but was eventually stranded at third on pinch-hitter Joey Votto's groundout.

McCann's sixth homer of the season came in the fourth off Edinson Volquez (4-1), sending the Reds to their third straight loss.

Chipper Jones, who reached base in all four at-bats, scored on McCann's homer and had two of Atlanta's six hits.

Hudson's last shutout was last Sept. 16 at Washington. His complete game, the first for Atlanta's staff this season, gave him 22 in his career and six in four years with the Braves.

With just one victory in his previous three starts, Hudson gave the Braves' ailing pitching staff a boost after John Smoltz said before the game that he's likely to return as Atlanta's closer instead of rejoining the rotation.

Smoltz is on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder and biceps tendinitis. Tom Glavine was out 13 games with a strained right hamstring before returning on Tuesday, and Mike Hampton said Friday that his strained pectoral muscle could keep him out indefinitely.

Hudson didn't have a strikeout after the sixth, but finished with a season-high 10. He retired Corey Patterson, Parkview grad Jeff Keppinger and Ken Griffey Jr. on fly balls in the ninth.

The performance stood in stark contrast to Hudson's last three, in which he'd managed just one win and had struggled with a dip in pitch velocity. He gave up four runs and seven hits in three innings of a 4-3 loss to the Mets on Saturday in New York.

Volquez, making his first appearance against the Braves, allowed five hits and two runs - one earned - in six innings. The National League's ERA leader struck out nine and walked two before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt in the seventh and Bill Bray in the eighth.

Return to bullpen likely for Smoltz

Manager Bobby Cox said Friday that Smoltz is likely to return as the Atlanta Braves' closer when he comes off the disabled list.

Smoltz, the only pitcher in baseball history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves, has a severely inflamed biceps tendon and inflammation of the rotator cuff of his right shoulder.

There is no immediate timetable for Smoltz to return to the 25-man roster. The 40-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts this year.

'It would be great if he could be out there and be part of that bullpen,' Cox said. 'It may be easier on that shoulder. I can visualize him locking up a lot of games for us.'