ATLANTA (AP) — As a .179 career hitter, Tim Hudson doesn’t expect much when he steps to the plate.
After pulling off the unlikely feat of hitting a homer in his 200th career win, Hudson concluded “The stars were aligned and it was meant to be.”
Hudson was a dual threat in his milestone win, dominating on the mound over seven innings and hitting a homer and a double to lead the Atlanta Braves to an 8-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
Hudson (3-1) stuck out six and walked two while giving up one run. One of the three hits he allowed was an infield single by Denard Span.
“It was a fun game,” Hudson said. “Obviously, it’s kind of surreal. No one expects to hit a home run.”
Hudson’s bat almost stole the night. He led off the second with a double to left field off Gio Gonzalez (2-2) and hit a fifth-inning homer off Zach Duke. Bryce Harper made a leaping attempt to catch the homer, but the ball bounced off his glove and over the wall.
“We’re pitchers, we’re not supposed to hit home runs anywhere,” Hudson said.
The homer was the third of Hudson’s career and first since June 20, 2011 against Toronto.
“It was Hudson’s night,” Gonzalez said. “Tip your cap.”
The Braves, citing information from the Elias Sports Bureau, said Cleveland’s Bob Lemon was the only other pitcher to hit a homer in his 200th win. Lemon’s milestone came on Sept. 11, 1956.
The Braves led 4-0 after two innings and cruised to their ninth straight against Washington, dating to last season.
Andrelton Simmons had three hits, including a homer to lead off the first inning for Atlanta. Freddie Freeman had three singles and three RBIs, and Evan Gattis drove in two runs with two hits.
Hudson, 37, became the third active pitcher with 200 wins, joining Andy Pettitte (248) and Roy Halladay (201). He is 200-105 in his career, including 92 wins while with Oakland from 1999-2004.
Hudson allowed no hits until Tyler Moore led off the fifth with a double to the right-field corner. Moore scored from third on a groundout by Wilson Ramos.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “He used all his pitches, as usual, and made a lot of good pitches.
“Just a heck of a ball game.”
Moore started with Jayson Werth being held out because of a sore left ankle and tightness in his right hamstring. Werth fouled a ball off his ankle Monday night.
Ian Desmond led off the seventh with a triple to right field but was stranded on third as Hudson ended his night by striking out Chad Tracy and Ramos.
The Nationals (13-14) fell below .500 with their third straight loss.
“We’re off to a slow start,” Gonzalez said. “Once we turn it around it’s going to be a big change.”
Gonzalez lasted only four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and a season-high five walks with nine strikeouts. The left-hander has allowed five or more runs in three of his six starts this season, leaving his ERA at 5.34. It was the second start this season Gonzalez has pitched only four innings.
“Today is one of those things you just can’t explain,” Gonzalez said. “You either attack the strike zone or you don’t. You get nine strikeouts and then five walks. Some good contact and then broken-bat hits.”
Johnson said poor command prevented Gonzalez from executing his plan to attack Atlanta’s hitters.
“It looked like he was going right after them,” Johnson said. “Obviously, he wasn’t keeping the ball down and hitting his spots.”
After Simmons led off the first with a line-drive homer that just cleared the left-field wall, Justin Upton reached on a one-out walk and scored on a double by Gattis. Chris Johnson and Freeman had run-scoring singles in the second, and Gattis drove in another run with a single in the fourth.
The Braves stretched the lead with three runs off Duke in the fifth, including a two-run single by Freeman.
Anthony Varvaro pitched two perfect innings in relief of Hudson.
NOTES: Johnson said RHP Stephen Strasburg may have irritated a nerve in his right arm using an electrical stimulation machine. The device could have been placed too close to a nerve in Strasburg’s right arm, leading to discomfort for the right-hander in Monday night’s start against the Braves. … Braves RHP Luis Ayala was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 25, with an anxiety disorder. RHP David Carpenter was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. … Braves C Brian McCann said his surgically repaired right shoulder is feeling good and he is throwing “basically the same as before I got hurt.” He caught batting practice for RHP Brandon Beachy, recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery. McCann will return to his minor league rehabilitation schedule Wednesday and could come off the DL early next week. … Braves LHP Paul Maholm will face Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday night.