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Cardinals righthander Dakota Hudson, who didn't give up a hit over 6 2/3 innings in his previous start against Milwaukee on Monday,  permitted the Colorado Rockies just two hits over six innings Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

And his teammates supported him royally, with Harrison Bader hitting a two-run homer in the second and Paul Goldschmidt banging his 29th homer of the season in the seventh as the Cardinals won 6-0. The shutout was the Cardinals' ninth of the season and fifth this month. 

Of more significance was that the win was Hudson's 13th and it gave the Cardinals a 1 1/2 game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division, representing their largest lead since May 3 when they were 1 1/2 ahead. After their 12th victory in 15 games, the Cardinals are 70-58 for the season, which also is the highest they have been over the break-even point.

Hudson (13-6), allowed a second-inning double to Daniel Murphy and a sixth-inning single by Trevor Story and walked three. Tyler Webb, Giovanny Gallegos and Dominic Leone finished with three scoreless frames, with Leone striking out the side.  

Speaking of scoreless frames.  . .

Over his last three starts, Hudson hasn't allowed a run and only seven hits in 18 2/3 innings. The shutout was the 150th caught by the Cardinals' Yadier Molina in games he has started.  That ranks fourth all-time.

All was not good, though. Second baseman Kolten Wong had to leave the game in the seventh after fouling a ball off his right big toe. X-rays were negative but Wong was using crutches to get around after the game and said he was in pain. He surely will not be playing in the series finale on Sunday.

OZUNA, BADER GIVE CARDS EARLY 4-0 JUMP 

Marcell Ozuna, again brandishing a green sleeve on his right arm _ a testament to good times he had in Miami and here last year and as an accessory for Players’ Weekend _ knocked in two runs with a single in the first inning Saturday night. Coupled with this hit that gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead over the Colorado Rockies, Ozuna had five runs batted in for the two games of Players’ Weekend.

“Tots” Bader then cracked his first homer since returning from the minors earlier in the week and his seventh this season when he followed a walk to Tommy Edman with a blast to left in the second. The Cardinals quickly had given righthander Dakota Hudson a 4-0 lead.

Hudson, who carried a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings in his last start before being replaced, allowed a second-inning double to Daniel Murphy but was scoreless for three innings.

The Cardinals put up another run for Hudson in the fifth on walks to Dexter Fowler, Paul Goldschmidt and Ozuna and a dropped fly ball that turned into a forceout/sacrifice fly, scoring Fowler. 

HUDSON LOOKS TO BUILD OFF NO-HIT START

Pitch count, like Father Time, remains undefeated, leaving Dakota Hudson with the historical equivalent of a no decision.

Before Hudson could become only the second person in four generations to throw a no-hitter in St. Louis, the number of pitches he threw just to get into the seventh inning got the better of him and made the decision for the Cardinals. Hudson needed 111 pitches to get through 6 2/3 innings, and even though he had yet to allow a hit to the Milwaukee Brewers, that brought an end to his evening.

The no-hitter was lost soon after once it got into the bullpen.

Hudson, the Cardinals' rookie starter, makes his first start since that near no-no and brings a 12 2/3-inning scoring streak into Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies. As young pitcher, he's entering the workload zone that has seen others get added days of rest and the team be more conservative with how deep into games the pitcher goes. As a sinkerballer, he has the pitch that invites contact and could keep him efficient enough to turn 111 pitches, like he threw to the Brewers, into 24 outs, if not 27 outs.

Hudson has nearly lopped a 1/2 run off his ERA this month, following Jack Flaherty into the August heat as one of the Cardinals more reliable starters.

But he's not had the consistent, sharp sizzle to the sinker that would make his starts more consistent. He's pitched through six innings in each of his previous to starts. He didn't make it beyond the fourth in the three starts before then.

The Cardinals lineup that raced to an early, 8-0 lead against the Rockies on Friday gets an encore Saturday, as the Cardinals celebrate the new class of members to the team's Hall of Fame. That puts Dexter Fowler atop the lineup. Tommy Edman at third base, and Matt Carpenter off the bench.

Manager Mike Shildt said he has a day in mind for Carpenter's return to the starting lineup, but it's not in stone and the lineup remains "fluid."

The Cardinals have won 10 of their past 13 games to move into first place in the National League Central. A win on Saturday will give them a series win against the Rockies in this four-game set, and would give the Cardinals a 5-1 start to the seven-game home stand that concludes Sunday.

Here's the lineup that will back Dakota:

1. Dexter Fowler, RF

2. Kolten Wong, 2B

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Marcell Ozuna, LF

5. Paul DeJong, SS

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Tommy Edman, 3B

8. Harrison Bader, CF

9. Dakota Hudson, RHP

Check back throughout the evening here at C-Beat and StlToday.com for more coverage from the ballpark and the Hall inductions.

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