ANAHEIM, Calif. – Tim Hudson had difficulty finding the strike zone most of the night. And when he did, the Los Angeles Angels hammered the ball all over the ballpark — a sight Ervin Santana enjoyed immensely.
Santana pitched a four-hitter for his sixth career shutout and the Angels welcomed Hudson back to the Big A for the first time in almost seven years with a six-run third inning that carried them to a 9-0 rout of the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
Santana (2-4) got offensive help from Mark Trumbo with a three-run homer and Alberto Callaspo with three RBIs. Neither had ever faced Hudson before. It was the 13-year veteran's first outing at Angel Stadium since June 22, 2004, with the Athletics, when he lost 6-1. He came in 13-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 24 career starts against the Angels.
"It was an uphill battle from the start. I wasn't making pitches and it just wasn't a good night," Hudson said. "I guess I'm just not very good in the American League anymore, apparently."
Hudson (4-4) threw 77 pitches over 3 2-3 innings, allowing eight runs, seven hits and three walks. The right-hander, facing the Angels for the first time since an 8-4 interleague loss in Atlanta on June 8, 2005, also hit three batters — one more than he plunked in 62 1-3 innings during his nine previous starts this season.
It was the third time that the three-time All-Star hit three batters in a game in 354 starts. He also did it April 21, 2004, at Seattle in a 7-4 victory with Oakland, and June 11 of that season in a 6-1 interleague win against Pittsburgh.
Peter Bourjos, the Angels' No. 9 hitter, triggered the team's most productive inning of the season with a leadoff double that ended an 0-for-23 drought. Bobby Abreu had an RBI double, Torii Hunter singled home another run and Abreu scored on Hank Conger's groundout. Trumbo capped the rally with his seventh homer, which landed behind the double-decker bullpen in left field.
"The plan was to get the ball up, because he's obviously got a really good sinker," Trumbo said. "But more than anything, it was about being determined. It's time for us to go out there and play like we're capable of. And if we're going down, we're going down swinging. There's no more tentative baseball. We've had flashes of the way we can play, so we're going to come out and play hard and see what happens."
Hudson opened the fourth by hitting his first two batters — Bourjos on an 0-1 pitch and Maicer Izturis on a full count. Both advanced on Erick Aybar's bunt, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez went to the mound with assistant trainer Jim Lovell to check on Hudson, whose back was stiffening up.
But he stayed in and walked Abreu and struck out Hunter before Callaspo chased him with a two-run single that made it 8-0.
"I've never been one to make excuses and I'm not going to make excuses now," Hudson said. "It is what it is. I mean, I think if you talk to everybody in here, they've all got something going on here and there. So I don't think it's something I can't deal with. I felt better (on the mound) than I did when I was backing up third base. But it definitely wasn't one of my better nights, that's for sure."
Callaspo came up with the bases loaded again in the sixth against Cristhian Martinez and drove in the Angels' final run with a groundout. The run total matched their entire output in their previous five games combined. They came in having scored only one run in their previous 30 innings. In four of Santana's previous six starts, his teammates didn't score while he was in the game.
In the first interleague game of the season for both teams, Santana went the distance for the 10th time in 180 career starts. He struck out seven, and walked none for the first time in 10 starts this season.
"Let's not take any credit away from Santana. He was pretty good. In fact, he was better than good — real good," Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had a couple of guys who had seen him before, and we had enough reports and film. So that shouldn't have been a problem."
NOTES: McCann returned to Angel Stadium for the first time since winning All-Star MVP honors for his go-ahead, three-run double off Matt Thornton last July, when the NL snapped a 13-year drought with a 3-1 victory at the Big A. ... With the Braves able to use a designated hitter in an American League ballpark, Jones filled that role and was 0 for 3 without hitting a ball out of the infield. In 25 career games as a DH, Jones is batting .273 with seven homers, 12 RBIs and 12 walks. LF Martin Prado started at 3B in Jones' place for the sixth time this season. ... The Angels are 140-109 against NL teams since the inception of interleague play in 1997. The Braves are 119-108 against the AL during that span.