Appearing in his first Giants-Dodgers game Sunday, Tim Hudson will try to duplicate something he has accomplished just once in his career: Winning at Dodger Stadium.
Hudson has started four games at Chavez Ravine which his team won, once with the A's in an Interleague affair and three times with the Braves. But the 38-year-old received a victorious decision only on May 15, 2005, when he worked six innings while surrendering two runs (one earned) and nine hits in Atlanta's 5-2 triumph over the Dodgers.
Renowned as a pitcher's park, Dodger Stadium has not been friendly to Hudson. He's 1-3 with a 4.47 ERA in eight lifetime starts there.
Overall, Hudson has fared well in his encounters with the Dodgers, posting a 6-4 record and a 3.49 ERA in 14 career starts against them.
The Dodgers must subdue Hudson and the Giants to emerge with a series split -- and, likely, deflect more criticism. With the shouts of skeptics rising, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly came to his team's defense Saturday before the 6-2 comeback victory over the Giants.
"I feel good about our club," he said. "We're going through a stretch where we're not scoring runs. People say we look listless. A guy shuts you down, that's how it looks. When there's not a lot going on, you're going to get beat. You see it with other teams. [Clayton] Kershaw beats them, they look listless."
Kershaw will, in fact, be starting opposite Hudson on Sunday and is coming off a resounding return from the disabled list. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, who missed six weeks with a shoulder injury, shut out the Nationals over seven innings on Tuesday. He went 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA in five starts against the Giants last season.
As the rivals prepare to close out this series, Mattingly said his team needs to raise its game, even though it's only May.
"There should be a sense of urgency every day," he said. "Today, maybe it's the start of playing .700 ball for the next two months. A good team comes to play every day and has confidence that you're going to win today and tomorrow and get the ship in the right direction."
Giants: Rest remains essential for Romo
The absence of a save situation Saturday prevented Giants manager Bruce Bochy from the temptation to use closer Sergio Romo for a third consecutive day.
"I don't do that often," said Bochy, who regulates the right-hander's workload to spare him from the injuries that nagged him in previous years.
For example, Bochy summoned Santiago Casilla to finish the ninth inning of last Sunday's 4-1 victory at Atlanta that concluded a three-game sweep after Romo converted saves in the previous two games.
Dodgers: He Drew it up
Drew Butera has been known as a defensive specialist catcher. In other words, an easy out as a hitter.
But a seventh-inning double and eighth-inning sacrifice fly Saturday further demonstrated that, at age 30, the journeyman can be taught new tricks. Butera said he worked all winter on his hitting with his father, former Major League catcher Sal, then adjusted his plan of attack in Spring Training working with hitting coaches Mark McGwire and John Valentin.
"I'd like to think I'm a smarter hitter now," said Butera. "I give credit to Mac and Val. I'm using my hands more, reacting to pitches instead of trying to pull or trying to go the other way. It's something I have to do, along with bunting a guy over or hitting a sacrifice fly. Some guys can hit three-run home runs. I have to do the little things to help us win."