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Cards beat Mulder's buddy
ATLANTA -- When Tim Hudson took the mound in the first inning, he glanced over at the opposing dugout and spotted Mark Mulder.
"I kind of had a little chuckle," Hudson said.
Considering all they had been through together, it was a natural reaction. But neither pitcher had much to smile about the rest of the night.
The former Oakland teammates were roughed up in their first starts against each other, but Mulder managed to get the win when Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer that carried the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday.
"So much for a pitcher's duel," Mulder said sarcastically, having surrendered eight hits and five runs -- four earned -- in seven innings.
That was better than Hudson, who gave up four runs in the first and left after the sixth, saddled with a line that showed nine hits and six runs -- twice as many runs as he gave up in his first four starts for the Braves, covering 28 innings.
"Unfortunately, I wasted a great offensive night by my team," he said.
Hudson (2-1) lost for only the third time in 100 career starts when provided with at least four runs by his teammates. His record in those games dropped to 77-3.
Given a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, Mulder (3-1) couldn't hold it. Andruw Jones hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom half of the first, then Brian Jordan tied it up with a two-run homer in the third.
Hudson was shaky in the first. He gave up a two-run single to Scott Rolen on an 0-2 pitch and needed to make a great diving catch on an attempted squeeze bunt to prevent another run from scoring.
Then, after breezing through the next three innings, Hudson ran into more trouble in the fifth.
It started with a leadoff double by Larry Walker. On the very next pitch, Pujols lined an opposite-field shot into the right-field seats, extending his hitting streak to 10 games with his sixth homer of the season.
Pujols wasn't too impressed with the pitching matchup.
"You guys care more than we do," he told reporters. "They're good pitchers. We're good hitters. That's why anything can happen in this game."
The Braves closed to a run in the bottom of the fifth on Marcus Giles' RBI single, but that was it. They couldn't rally in the ninth despite putting the first two hitters on against Julian Tavarez, who was filling in for injured closer Jason Isringhausen.
Ray King entered with one out and got pinch-hitter Chipper Jones to foul out. King was then replaced by Al Reyes, who earned his first save since 2001 by retiring pinch-hitter Eddie Perez on a grounder to third.
Hudson and Mulder were teammates in Oakland for five years, combining for 173 wins and joining Barry Zito in a "Big Three" rotation that led A's to four straight playoff appearances.
But budget-conscious Oakland traded away two of its prized starters last winter. Less than one month into the season with their new teams, Mulder and Hudson faced each other.
Both pitchers were off to strong starts -- Hudson had a 0.96 ERA and Mulder was coming off a 10-inning shutout in his last start.
They couldn't keep it up against each other, though there were a few lighthearted moments.
In the second, Mulder hit a grounder to first baseman Julio Franco, who flipped to Hudson covering. As Mulder headed back to the dugout, he told Hudson, "I can't hit that." The Atlanta pitcher smiled.
In Hudson's first at-bat, he flung the bat into the stands behind the Cardinals dugout while striking out.
"I looked like a little girl up there," Hudson said.
Mulder thoroughly enjoyed making his former teammate look foolish. "I was happy when he threw the bat like that. It was funny."
For the most part, though, it was a struggle.
"I would make two or three bad pitches in a row, then I'd make a great pitch and get a double play," Mulder said. "I was leaving everything up, especially in the first inning."
The Hudson-Mulder matchup wasn't the only one of significance on this night.
For the first time in more than a half-century, two managers with more than 2,000 wins apiece had faced each other, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. St. Louis' Tony La Russa ranks fifth on the career list with 2,129, while Atlanta's Bobby Cox is eighth at 2,015.
The last matchup between 2,000-win managers: Joe McCarthy of the Boston Red Sox and Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1950.
Jones received a cortisone shot in his ailing left foot and was out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game. He did manage to play for the first time since Sunday, when he was hurt running the bases.