SAN FRANCISCO -- A loss would have served the Giants their first ever four-game sweep at AT&T Park since it opened in 2000, but there was nothing for Giants fans to fear with Tim Hudson making a home start.
Hudson pitched seven veteran innings and the Giants, without a home run for the sixth consecutive game, plated seven in support to salvage a 7-1 win over the Nationals in Thursday afternoon's finale.
The Giants are now 7-0 this year with Hudson starting in San Francisco, and his team has not lost one of his home outings since September of 2012.
Owners of baseball's best record at 43-24, the Giants now have an 8.5-game division lead over the rival Dodgers.
Starting pitcher report
The first Giants pitcher in the San Francisco era to post a sub-2.00 ERA through his first 12 starts with the team, Tim Hudson managed to lower his season ERA on Thursday.
He scattered six hits over seven innings and allowed just an unearned run while striking out five.
The unearned run came in the fourth inning when Ryan Zimmerman's two-out single scored Adam LaRoche, who was put in scoring position on a two-out passed ball by Buster Posey.
Hudson entered Friday ranked first in the NL with the fewest walks -- 11 in 82 1/3 innings for an average of 1.2 per nine innings. But he issued back-to-back base on balls in the sixth inning, coaxing Dave Righetti from the dugout. Home plate umpire Gerry Davis drew the AT&T Park crowd's ire when he called numerous close pitches balls in the inning, but Hudson escaped unscathed after Brandon Crawford and Ehire Adrianza recorded putouts on back-to-back tough ground balls.
After his 104th pitch retired Denard Span to end the seventh inning, Hudson walked off -- head bowed -- to a loud standing ovation.
The 16-year veteran leads all active pitchers with 212 career wins.
Hudson's final line: 7 IP, 6 H, R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 104 P, W.
Jean Machi took the baton in the eighth inning, and defense replacement Brandon Hicks' nice turn on a 6-4-3 double play helped him end the inning in three batters.
Sergio Romo handled the ninth in impressive fashion, striking out the side. He also hit former Giant Kevin Frandsen in the back.
At the plate
Michael Morse entered Thursday's game against his former team with extra motivation after some pregame reading. The Washington Times article titled "Nats much better off with Michael Morse gone" -- in which he was referred to as "dumb" and "not the sharpest pencil in the box" -- did the trick.
Morse (seen, right) collected singles in each of his first three at-bats and scored two of the Giants' seven runs.
He spurred the Giants' run-scoring rally in the second inning, singling on the first pitch he saw -- a 94-mph fastball. Tyler Colvin, who had just six hits in his last 42 at-bats (.143), channeled his early season success and was able to elevate a 95-mph sinker off the right-field facade for an RBI triple. And with Washington playing its infield back, Brandon Crawford's ground ball to second base plated Colvin for an early 2-0 lead.
Morse's third hit, a clean line drive to left-center, started up the scoring again in the sixth. It put Pablo Sandoval on third base before Craig Stammen balked him home, and Morse later scored on a pinch hit single by Gregor Blanco.
Still battling sickness, Sandoval went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in 26 of his last 32 games. He is batting .477 (21-for-44) on the first pitch this year and his lone hit came in his lone at-bat swinging away.
The Giants added one insurance run in the seventh when Hunter Pence singled, made it to third with strong baserunning, and scored on Sandoval's sacrifice fly. They added two more in the eighth when Colvin singled and Crawford doubled to put runners in scoring position with no outs. This time, it was pinch hitter Hector Sanchez who delivered with a lashed single up the middle.
Despite seven runs, the Giants squandered a golden opportunity in the fourth inning after Morse, Colvin and Crawford again teamed up, loading the bases with a single and two walks. But Ehire Adrianza struck out swinging and Tim Hudson grounded into an inning-ending double play to keep it a one-run game.
Buster Posey's nine-game hit streak came to an end, but so too did the Giants season-long three-game hit streak, a trade the catcher will take every day of the week. Posey hit two balls very deep to left-center field. Both brought the AT&T Park crowd to its feet, and both were hauled in by Denard Span near the wall.
The Giants own an MLB-best 19-6 record during day games this season, in which they average 5.48 runs per game -- significantly better than the 3.64 runs they average at night.
In the field
It wasn't an error, but Buster Posey's passed ball with two outs in the fourth inning put Adam LaRoche at second, where he was able to easily score -- an unearned run -- on Ryan Zimmerman's single to right field.
Otherwise, the Giants played clean defense behind Tim Hudson for their third consecutive errorless game after one defensive miscue in the series opener on Monday.
Angel Pagan drew a fist pump from his starter in the fourth inning when he tracked down Jayson Werth's hard-hit line drive to the gap in left-center, sprawling onto the warning track after securing the ball.
The Giants announced a paid attendance of 41,067, marking the 281th consecutive regular season sellout at AT&T Park, the longest active streak in the majors.
The Giants on Friday night welcome in the division-rival Rockies for a three-game series at AT&T Park that wraps up a 10-game homestand. Tim Lincecum (5-4, 4.97) will take the ball in Game 1 against Jorge De La Rosa (6-5, 4.04) on Orange Friday. Ryan Vogelsong (4-3, 3.84) will oppose Christian Bergman (0-1, 3.00) in Saturday's matinee. And Madison Bumgarner (8-4, 2.67) will face Juan Nicasio (5-5, 5.70) in Sunday afternoon's series finale.
All three games will air on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area bookended by Giants Pre and Postgame Live.
Photo of Michael Morse courtesy of USATSI.