PHOENIX -- Tim Hudson waited more than eight months to get back on a big league mound after suffering a season-ending ankle injury last July. After giving him two years and $23 million, the Giants anxiously waited more than four months to see Hudson's first start in orange and black.
The debut was more successful than either side could have expected.
Hudson was laser sharp in a 2-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching 72/3 innings and allowing just three hits. Hudson was ahead of Diamondback hitters all night long, throwing 74 of 103 pitches for strikes, and he struck out seven without allowing a free pass. Afterward, he was all smiles, even yelling, "Look at that old man run!" as a clubhouse TV showed a highlight of Hudson putting down a bunt.
"It was a fun night," he said. "I was just happy as heck to be out there competing again."
Hudson looked like his old bulldog self while retiring the side in the first three innings. The first time through the order, seven of nine Diamondbacks found themselves down 0-2.
"He was pretty on-point," catcher Buster Posey said. "Most of the night, he did a good job attacking hitters and getting ahead. When he's pounding the zone like he did, it gives you a lot of different options."
That included pitching for strikeouts, and Hudson, who normally relies on ground balls, got a couple of big swings-and-misses. With a runner on second and two outs in the sixth, Hudson struck out Aaron Hill. In the same situation an inning later, he threw one past Mark Trumbo.
Hudson didn't need much help, but Angel Pagan provided a boost with a diving catch of Martin Prado's flare to center in the fourth that would have scored a run. Pagan added a long running catch in the eighth to give Hudson his final out. The center fielder played just 71 games a year ago because of a hamstring injury, and while the Giants missed his defense and ability to get on base in front of the heart of the order, they also missed his penchant for driving in the guys at the bottom of the order.
Pagan was third on the team in 2012 with 48 RBIs with runners in scoring position, hitting .298 in those situations. In limited time last season, Pagan hit .345 with runners in scoring position, second to Pablo Sandoval.
Pagan's fifth inning single gave Hudson a lead and the Giants their first run in 13 innings.
"That's the part of the offense that we missed," last season, manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants also went a year without hardly any production from left field, so -- along with Hudson -- they brought in Michael Morse in the offseason. Morse drove in his first run as a Giant with a sixth-inning double. He pumped his fist repeatedly as he approached second base.
"I get very excited when things like that happen, especially in a close game. It was good to do something to help out the team."
With a two-run lead, Hudson cruised. Hudson's dominance allowed the bullpen to rest and Bochy to use a familiar formula. Javier Lopez got the final out of the eighth and Sergio Romo picked up his second save with a clean ninth inning. In the postgame handshake line, Romo patted Hudson on the back and told him what an unbelievable job he did.
The win was the 206th of Hudson's career, pushing him one ahead of New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia on the active list. But there was no beer shower, as is the custom when a player wins his first game in orange and black. After all, Hudson is 38 years old.
"I might get pneumonia," he said, smiling.
Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Starting pitcher Tim Hudson earned the victory in his Giants debut against Arizona.