SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants filed out of the clubhouse Wednesday night, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy sat in the manager's office, feet up as they happily looked at the television. It was a picture of two men who can feel very good about the April their team just had, and even better about the months that preceded it.

Offseason acquisitions Michael Morse and Brandon Hicks provided the big hits in a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres and Tim Hudson did the rest, coming one strike away from a complete game.

Hudson, the biggest acquisition of the offseason, had a 2.17 ERA in his first month as a Giant, striking out 31 and walking just two in 452/3 innings. He has more wins (four) than the other four starters combined (three) and led the way as the Giants won 17 games before May 1 for the first time since 2003.

"It's unrealistic to think it's going to be like this all year," Hudson said. "But I'm going to do all I can to keep it going."

If Hudson can keep the same pace, he won't just increase the Giants' chances of making the postseason. He'll also have them feeling surprisingly well rested if they get there. Hudson threw just 89 pitches before giving way to closer Sergio Romo with two outs in the ninth. Romo needed five more pitches to clinch a two-hour, 17-minute win at AT&T Park.

Catcher Buster Posey, who had an RBI single, was one of several Giants who said he didn't even feel like he had played nine innings thanks to Hudson's pace.

"I love it," Posey said. "You catch that many pitches in four or five innings sometimes."

On an 80-degree night, Hudson worked quickly from the start, throwing eight pitches in a clean first inning. If a teammate took a bathroom break during any of the ensuing innings, he likely missed the entire thing. Hudson entered the night leading the majors in fewest pitches per inning at 12.6 and he was at just 40 pitches through four and 60 through six. When he walked off to a loud ovation after seven shutout innings, Hudson had thrown 69 pitches, just 19 of which were balls. He soon had a 3-0 lead and looked headed for his first complete game since June 5, 2012.

Morse put the Giants ahead early with an RBI double in the first, which made him the fourth Giant in the past 10 years to drive in 20 runs by the end of April. Hicks' solo shot in the second was his fifth of the season and fourth while playing second base, tying the total for last season's second basemen.

"I'm definitely in a better rhythm," said Hicks, a non-roster invitee who has grabbed an everyday job. "It's been awesome."

The franchise cornerstones feel the same way about the infusion of fresh blood. Morse and Hicks combined for 11 homers and 29 RBIs in April. Hudson is the first Giant since Livan Hernandez in 2002 to throw at least seven innings in his first six starts, and one of just three MLB pitchers -- along with St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto -- to do it this season.

Hudson's shutout bid ended in the eighth, but he still had thrown just 81 pitches when he took the mound in the ninth. Sergio Romo headed to the bullpen, but Bochy wanted the 38-year-old Hudson to finish what he started. Hudson got two quick outs before Yasmani Grandal hit a two-strike pitch into McCovey Cove. Bochy called for Romo, a move Hudson agreed with.

"I was economical all night but we needed to win the ballgame," Hudson said. "We needed to get someone in there they hadn't seen. We've got one of the best closers in the game, so I was definitely OK with it."

Hudson blamed himself for not closing it out, saying he shook off Posey's fastball call and instead went with a cutter.

"It didn't cut much," he said, smiling. "Cut right into his barrel, that's about it."

Hudson's 26-out start was impressive enough, and clinched a 5-1 homestand ahead of a brutal trip through Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

"He just put on a clinic," Bochy said. "If you had to watch a game and say this is how you want to pitch, tonight's game would have been it."

For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.

Friday's game
Giants (Tim Lincecum 1-1) at Atlanta (Mike Minor 0-0), 4:35 p.m. CSNBA