Hudson (5-2) allowed six hits, struck out five and walked none. The 38-year-old has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his 10 starts, and he has pitched at least seven innings eight times.
Buster Posey drove in two runs, and Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval singled home a run each to help the Giants (33-19) hold on to the best record in the majors. Jeremy Affeldt pitched a perfect eighth and Jean Machi pitched a perfect ninth to close out the Cubs, who will try again to win their first road series since last September in Wednesday’s finale.
“It was a tough one,” Arrieta said. “I was talking to one of the guys that those were the four softest runs you’ll see. They have a very professional team, fundamentally sound ballclub - who knows when and where to apply pressure. Their approaches are very sound. They all seem to be tough outs.”
San Francisco’s most reliable starting pitcher also might be its most unlikely.
After a broken right ankle with Atlanta last year threatened to end his career, Hudson has emerged as one of baseball’s best and most surprising offseason additions. He signed a $23 million, two-year contract with the Giants in November.
In a rotation that includes All-Stars Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner and two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, Hudson has a 1.92 ERA. San Francisco is 5-0 in Hudson’s home starts and 7-2 overall. That includes a rain-suspended game in his last start at Colorado, when he allowed one run in three innings coming off a hip injury.
Hudson joked that he tricks hitters with “smoke and mirrors” now before admitting that he’s just learned to be a better pitcher at this point in his career. He said he’s relying more on scouting reports, location and pitching to contact than trying to overpower hitters.
“From a command standpoint, this is probably the best I’ve been,” Hudson said.
The three-time All-Star, who turns 39 in July, showed no signs of rust when he returned to the mound at pitcher-friendly AT&T; Park.
Hudson retired the first eight batters until Arrieta grounded a single up the middle. He allowed two baserunners in the third and a one-out double to Mike Olt off the center-field wall in the fifth but quickly induced two outs each time.
Hudson left to a standing ovation from the announced sellout crowd of 41,060 after getting pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan to ground out with a runner on first to end the seventh.