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Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2005 11:17 PM EDT
RECAP | BOX SCORE | PLAY-BY-PLAY

3

(52-40)
0

(45-46)
  R H E  
Braves 3 10 1 WP: Hudson (7-5)
LP: Zambrano (4-8)
S: Reitsma (9)  
Mets 0 6 3
Hudson makes triumphant return as Braves edge Mets

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Braves are getting healthier by the day, beginning with Tim Hudson .

Hudson tossed six solid innings in his return from the disabled list and rookie Kelly Johnson collected two hits and two RBI as the Braves defeated the New York Mets , 3-0.

Hudson (7-5), who had not pitched since June 13 due to a strained left oblique, quickly made up for lost time with an extremely efficient performance in which he allowed just five hits and did not walk a batter. He did not throw more than four pitches to any batter in the first five innings and needed just 62 pitches to get through six.

But that was still more than enough for Hudson, who twice ran the bases and scored a run.

"I was gassed. I hadn't run the bases in a while," Hudson said. "I wasn't quite as sharp as I would have liked, but I couldn't ask for more after my mini-vacation."

The Mets mustered just two notable threats off Hudson. In the third inning, Miguel Cairo was thrown out at home trying to score on a grounder to first by Jose Reyes . Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd singled with two outs in the sixth before Hudson finished his night by getting David Wright to ground into a force out.

"It felt good to be part of the team again," said Hudson, who has not allowed a run in 14 innings against the Mets this year.

Hudson is one of three key players returning to the Braves after prolonged absences due to injury.

Lefthander and former Met Mike Hampton will return from the DL on Sunday and face New York ace Pedro Martinez in the finale of the four-game series. The Braves also are expected to welcome back star third baseman Chipper Jones from the disabled list early next week.

"Keeping those guys healthy the rest of the year is the key," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I thought that was one of (Hudson's) best games of the year. Hopefully we can get the same type of game from Hampton tomorrow."

Jim Brower pitched the seventh, Danny Kolb worked the eighth and Chris Reitsma logged the ninth to convert his ninth save in 13 opportunities and second in as many nights.

Victor Zambrano (4-8) pitched well in defeat, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings. The damage could have been worse had he not worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

"He's pitched well, but you've got to score runs," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "That's the bottom line."

Johnson snapped an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single in the third inning that plated Hudson and added a run-scoring hit in the ninth.

"Those type of slumps are going to happen," said Johnson, who began his major league career in a 1-for-30 drought. "The key is working hard and being in the lineup every day."

The Braves made it 2-0 in the fourth when All-Star Andruw Jones drew a leadoff walk and scored on a one-out double to left-center field by Ryan Langerhans .

The Mets lost for the fourth time in six games and have managed just one run in their last two contests.

"We're not pressing," outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "We're just trying to win ballgames."

New York made a pair of outfield errors, one by left fielder Floyd in the fifth and another by right fielder Mike Cameron in the sixth. Neither miscue led to runs.

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