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Control Woes Mar Hudson’s Playoff Debut

October 6, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) _ Tim Hudson wanted to pitch a gem in his postseason debut with the Braves. Maybe he wanted it too much.

Trying to give Atlanta a win in its playoff opener against Houston, Hudson instead struggled with persistent control problems. He walked five _ one intentional _ and hit a batter with a pitch, giving up seven hits and five runs in 6 2-3 innings as the Astros beat the Braves 10-5 Wednesday.

``I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain,″ Hudson said. ``We scored five runs today. We should have won the ballgame.″

The five walks and five earned runs allowed were career highs in eight postseason appearances for Hudson, who came to Atlanta from Oakland in a December trade.

``He was just too fired up, I think. He was really wanting to really pitch a shutout tonight, I think,″ Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Hudson had a hard time keeping his pitches down throughout the early innings, and catcher Johnny Estrada thought it looked as if he was overthrowing a bit.

``His bread and butter is his sinker,″ Estrada said. ``He couldn’t get it down. We had to use other pitches.″

The right-hander’s struggles were painfully obvious to teammates such as second baseman Marcus Giles.

``When (Hudson) came out of the game, Marcus and I stood on the mound and said it’s the first time he has thrown that many balls up in the zone,″ Estrada said.

The Braves hoped Hudson could team with John Smoltz to give them a strong duo of power pitchers with postseason experience.

After the departures of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux and Smoltz’s move to the bullpen, the top of the rotation lacked a true ace as the Braves were eliminated in the division series each of the last three years.

With the addition of Hudson, and Smoltz back in the rotation, the Braves hoped they had the two lead starters who could help them return to the World Series.

Hudson had not issued this many walks since June 13, when he walked five in 2 2-3 innings in a 7-3 loss at Texas. He also walked five in a 4-3 loss at Boston on May 20.

Hudson allowed 15 walks in his last five starts of the regular season. His 65 walks this season are the second-highest total of his career. His career-high 82 came in 2000 when he won a career-high 20 games for Oakland.

Hudson didn’t appear comfortable early. Often high with his pitches, he walked four and hit a batter in the first three innings. In the fourth, he threw a pitch to Brad Ausmus over Estrada’s head.

The right-hander didn’t walk another batter until giving Lance Berkman an intentional pass in the seventh before Morgan Ensberg’s third run-scoring hit of the game. The single gave Houston a 5-3 lead and knocked Hudson out of the game.

``I’m supposed to be able to make adjustments better than that,″ he said. ``Obviously, the performance wasn’t too good. ... I was just overthrowing, leaving the rubber a little too quick. I made the adjustment after about the fourth and I started feeling pretty normal after that.″

Three of the hits off Hudson were doubles. Two led off an inning and another, by Craig Biggio in the third, came with one out. Biggio scored on a two-run single by Ensberg after Hudson loaded the bases with two walks.

Ausmus scored after a leadoff double in the fourth for a 4-1 lead.

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