Hudson (8-7), who was optioned to Triple-A on Sept. 5, said he had a pep talk with himself en route to Memphis that helped him get his season back on track. He limited the Reds to six hits over a career-best eight innings while striking out five and walking two. The one run he allowed -- on a TJ Friedl double in the seventh inning -- was unearned because of his own throwing error that put Matt Reynolds in scoring position.
It marked his first win since Aug. 25 in Chicago.
“If you don’t take yourself back and think about what you’ve been doing and where you’re going, you’re never going to come back,” Hudson said. “I had to go and have that mental talk with myself and say, ‘Hey, is that what we’re going to do? How do I personally get to my best?’ I had a little self-talk with myself.
“The four-hour drive to Memphis is the perfect time for [the pep talk]. I had talked with my wife, who is always super supportive of everything I do. If it helps me refocus and make more pitches, [going to Memphis] will be a good thing. As much as I hated it and as much as it did make me angry, maybe it’s something that can help me turn the page.”
Pujols, who hit home run 698 on Friday night, walked in his first two at-bats against Cincinnati left-hander Mike Minor and then grounded back to reliever Kyle Dowdy in his third at-bat. Pujols hit into a double play in the sixth and grounded out in the eighth to finish 0-for-3 with two walks. The two walks gave him 1,000 in his career as a Cardinal.
“He’s made it easy because when you put your winning lineup out there, he’s in it,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said of Pujols, who has led the Cardinals to a 15-1 record this season in games in which he homers. “It’s not a matter of whether we’re facing a lefty or a righty, he’s in there because he’s doing a nice job against everybody. Now, it’s just a matter of just resting him and making sure he’s fresh.”
Molina, who announced in Spring Training that this would be his final MLB season, drove a 3-1 pitch a Statcast-projected 393 feet in the third inning for his fifth home run of the season. With a single in the second inning and the third-inning home run, Molina moved into eighth place in total bases (3,116) in AL/NL history among primary catchers. He passed former Tigers great Lance Parrish (3,113 total bases) for eighth.
“He’s done a nice job. His approach is what it needs to be, and he’s using the whole field to do damage,” Marmol said of Molina, who hit the 176th home run of his career. “That [home run] was a big part of that game.”
Hudson, who has battled command issues most of the season, was bumped from the rotation after his ERA reached 4.43. During his time with Memphis, he pitched well while working with a pitch clock at the Triple-A level. Hudson’s slow pace while on the mound has been a point of contention all season with Marmol. Now, he’s hoping he can pitch well enough down the stretch to be a contributor come playoff time.
“[The pitch clock] definitely speeds you up a little bit,” Hudson said. “There are things I do and don’t like about it. But I feel like I continued my pace [gained in Triple-A] once I got up here.”