Atlanta Braves vs. Florida Marlins
When: 7:10 tonight
Where: Miami, Fla.
On TV: SportSouth
MIAMI — Tim Hudson pitched effectively into the sixth inning in his return to the majors, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a 4-3 victory over the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night after a nearly three-hour rain delay.
Hudson (1-0) gave up six hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings in his first big league start since having elbow ligament replacement surgery almost 13 months ago.
Brian McCann and Garret Anderson each had an RBI, and the Braves took advantage of a balk by starter Anibal Sanchez (2-6) to beat the Marlins for the second straight night in a series pivotal for both teams' postseason chances. Atlanta is three games behind Colorado for the NL wild card, and Florida fell five back.
Marlins All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez left in the top of the fifth with a tight left hamstring, the team said. He is day to day. Emilio Bonifacio replaced him in the lineup.
Dan Uggla hit his 24th home run in the ninth off Rafael Soriano. But the Braves closer regrouped to get his 21st save in 24 chances.
All that was after a rain delay that seemed as though it would never end. The final out was at 1:02 a.m. Wednesday.
The rain and thunderstorms around the ballpark never let the starters warm up for the original start time. The Marlins were able to begin batting practice about 21/2 hours before the game, then the sky quickly blackened, and fast-moving storms forced players to retreat to the dugout and sent the grounds crew scurrying to put the tarp on the field.
About 1,000 fans remained when the game finally started in a light drizzle at exactly 10 p.m., the field soggy but solid. The few left were wrapped in ponchos and damp clothes, a spirited bunch of Marlins and Braves fans who tried to make up for the stadium's orange and aqua seats left wet and empty.
None of that could put a damper on a big night for Atlanta's former ace.
Hudson had last pitched July 23, 2008, when he walked off the same mound in Florida with discomfort in his pitching arm. He then had surgery last August.
Now, after more than a year recovering and more than a month of rehab starts in the minors, the right-hander rejoined a rotation that is already one of the strongest in the big leagues and looking to make a move into the playoffs.
Matt Diaz had a leadoff single and scored on a double play later in the first to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.
The Marlins answered fast in the bottom half, with Chris Coghlan and Wes Helms starting with back-to-back doubles. Both scored on Jorge Cantu's single.
After Sanchez balked in a run, McCann hit an RBI double in the third that put Atlanta ahead 3-2.
Hudson loaded the bases in the sixth, but reliever Peter Moylan got Cody Ross to ground into a double play.
NOTES: Florida has had three rainouts this season in Miami, a big reason the team is looking forward to a new retractable-roof ballpark expected to open in 2012.