Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) pitches in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field. (Photo: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)
ATLANTA — Tim Hudson did it with his arm and his bat on Sunday, as the veteran right-hander helped Atlanta to a 5-1 win over Chicago at Turner Field.
Hudson (1-0) gave up only one run, allowed just three hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings to win the 198th game of his career. Hudson also had an RBI single that padded the lead and gave the Braves a three-game sweep over the Cubs, the first time that's happened since July 2005.
"He gave us a great opportunity to win today," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Hudson gave up a run in the first inning when David DeJesus doubled and scored on an infield out. After the leadoff hit, Hudson retired 20 of the next 23 batters He left the game with two outs in the seventh when the Cubs got two runners on base.
"Early on I didn't feel great," Hudson said. "I was able to settle in and for the most part zero in and make some pitches."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum simply said, "That's Hudson."
Hudson credited rookie catcher Evan Gattis, with whom he had not worked this season, "for doing a great job mixing up the pitches." Hudson is now 136-3 when given a three-run lead and has won 74 straight decisions in those situations.
Hudson outdueled Chicago right-hander Jeff Samardzija (1-1), who struck out a career-high 13 in 5 2/3 innings and absorbed his first career loss to Atlanta. The Braves tied the game in the fifth when Ramiro Pena scored with the help of two wild pitches, the second one on a walk to Hudson.
"That walk to the pitcher turned the lineup around," Sveum said.
The Braves broke open a 1-1 tie by rallying for three runs in the sixth against Samardzija. A two-out single by Pena with the bases loaded drove in two runs and Hudson knocked in another when his line drive glanced off the top of the glove of second baseman Alberto Gonzalez for a base hit.
Pena was playing for the second straight game because starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons was sidelined with a jammed thumb. Pena had a critical two-run hit in Saturday's dramatic come-from-behind win and went 2-for-4 on Sunday.
"One guy in the lineup you didn't expect winds up beating you two days in a role," Sveum said.
Left-hander Luis Avilan bailed Hudson out by getting pinch hitter Scott Hairston to end the seventh inning on an infield grounder.
Avilan pitched around two hits to record a scoreless eighth.
Jordan Walden pitched a scoreless ninth, as the Braves opted not to use closer Craig Kimbrel in a nonsave situation. Walden did not allow a hit and struck out the side.
The lack of offense continued to bother Sveum. The Cubs left seven runners on base Sunday and were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
"The bottom line is we only scored one run," Sveum said. "It's going to be difficult to win games when you're scoring one, two and three runs consistently. We're going to have to hit to take some of the pressure off our starting pitchers, who are pitching their hearts out."
Notes: The Braves placed first baseman Freddie Freeman on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. Freeman was batting .412 (7-for-17) with one homer and seven RBI, tied with teammate Justin Upton for third in the league. The Braves purchased the contract of INF Blake DeWitt to replace Freeman. DeWitt hit .244 in 26 Grapefruit League games and was hitting .333 (2-for-6) in two games with AAA Gwinnett. Chris Johnson started at first in place of Freeman. ... Carlos Marmol officially has been replaced as Cubs closer by rookie Kyuji Fujikawa after three ineffective outings. But Sveum left the door open for Marmol to reclaim the job. ... Chicago returns home for its season opener after playing its first six games on the road. Atlanta is about to embark on a stretch where they play 16 of their next 18 games on the road. ... The Braves drew 117,741 for the three-game series, with a crowd of 45,800 on Sunday.