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In key duel, he'll take draw

TORONTO -- Curt Schilling doesn't walk guys. Orlando Hudson doesn't walk.

So how was it, in what Toronto manager Carlos Tosca called the biggest plate appearance of the night, that Hudson was able to draw a two-out walk from Schilling after being behind 1-and-2 in the count, loading the bases in the eighth inning for the grand slam by Chris Gomez that made a 7-3 loser out of Schilling and the Sox last night?

"It was very tough," said Hudson, who came into the game batting just .149, had only one hit against a righthanded pitcher in the first three weeks of the season, and had drawn just one walk against a righty this season, after a total of 39 walks in 2003.

"That's a Hall of Famer, man," Hudson said. "I tip my hat to him. I love that guy, I met him, man, he's unbelievable. That's a guy you go in a foxhole with every day. You could see he still had confidence in his splitter, and he wasn't breaking a sweat like some young pitchers would have. He stayed on the mound calm, and I tried to stay as calm as he was, but that was tough to do, because he's been through it, the World Series and everything."

Hudson, 26, hasn't been through much at all yet in his second full season with the Blue Jays, other than an ill-advised commentary his first spring on the wardrobe favored by Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

"Orlando, he's a real charger, sometimes he falls off the balance beam, he wants to do so much," Tosca said. "But I thought that was the at-bat of the game."

Hudson laid off the next three pitches, the last a fastball that just missed the outside corner, in the judgment of plate umpire Bill Miller. It was Schilling's only walk of the night. The thinking-man's pitcher may have outthought himself.

"I was just saying, `Stay calm and try to see it,' " Hudson said. "Because he can throw that splitter for a strike, the cutter for a strike, the fastball for a strike. I just took a deep breath and said, `Make sure you see it.' "

Hudson, who had tripled with two outs in the seventh, the first of four straight hits by the Blue Jays when they scored twice to tie the score at 3, laid off the payoff pitch, bringing up Gomez, the 32-year-old shortstop and No. 9 hitter who drew a start last night because the stat sheet showed he'd had some success against Schilling (7 for 25, .280).

"But that was seven years ago," Gomez said. "He was in Philly, I was in San Diego. I'm not even sure I hit the ball hard against him. I don't know if that's a good thing. That's Curt Schilling."

There were no regrets about the swing he put on Schilling in the eighth last night, when he drove a hanging splitter over the left-field wall for his first grand slam. It was the 13th hit off Schilling, two more than the Jays had mustered the previous two nights against Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield combined, and led to Toronto's first win at home in nine tries. "And we did it against a great team with an unbelievable pitching staff," Hudson said. "That lifts our spirits."

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