"Waino always says if you want to get wins, you'd better go seven," Hudson said. "I finally hit that benchmark, so I'll have to give him a call."
While Wainwright is back in St. Louis nursing a minor hamstring injury, Hudson turned in a performance worthy of the longtime ace as the Cardinals handed the Miami Marlins their sixth consecutive defeat, 7-1.
Hudson (5-3) allowed four hits and one run, struck out six and retired 10 in a row during one stretch for the Cardinals, who have won his past five starts.
He said he was glad to go seven innings but doesn't want to be satisfied meeting that goal.
"I'm pushing for nine every time," Hudson said. "I'll just have to keep making a case to be out there as long as possible."
The right-hander has the highest groundball rate in the majors, and 12 of his 21 outs came on grounders. He hasn't given up a homer in 47 innings.
"He controlled counts and threw a heavy ball," manager Mike Shildt said. "He was down with pretty much everything."
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina returned after missing 11 games because of a strained right thumb and went 2 for 5 with a single and double.
Left fielder Marcell Ozuna made a fine catch with two on in the fourth, and punctuated the victory with a ninth-inning homer , his 18th. He has a career average of .452 (14 for 31) against his former team.
"Ozo is an All-Star with the year he's having," Shildt said.
The Marlins totaled five hits, all singles. They rank last in the majors in runs and have been outscored 31-10 in the past six games.
"When you start losing and everything is going backward, it's really hard to have the same energy as when you're winning," Miami shortstop Miguel Rojas said. "It's really tough to have fun when the team is not doing good around you. That's when we have to be stronger and come here with a different attitude."
Elieser Hernandez (0-1), recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to make his first start of the year, allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Kolten Wong had two of the Cardinals' 13 hits and reached base four times, and teammate Harrison Bader drove in two runs with a triple and a bases-loaded walk. Dexter Fowler had an RBI single in the seventh and then scored from first on Jose Martinez's pinch-hit two-run single.
OUT OF THE GAME
Hudson, who struck out three times, joked that he might have pitched longer if not for his batting. He threw 93 pitches and departed for a pinch hitter with the Cardinals leading 4-1.
"I think we got in a situation where they didn't want me to strike out again," Hudson said with a chuckle.
Marlins: RHP Jose Ureña (lower back tightness) was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday and may go on the injured list. The ailment surfaced after he threw a bullpen session Monday. ... RHP Riley Ferrell (right biceps tendinitis) joined Class A Jupiter on a rehab assignment.
The Cardinals signed their first-round draft choice, LHP Zack Thompson of Kentucky, and announced they had agreed to terms with seven other picks.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (4-6, 4.54) is scheduled to start the series finale Wednesday when the Cardinals try for a sweep. He started twice against the Marlins last year and won both games.
Marlins: RHP Jordan Yamamoto, acquired in the Christian Yelich trade in January 2018, is expected to be recalled from Double-A Jacksonville to make his major league debut as Ureña's replacement. Yamamoto is 3-5 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts for Jacksonville.
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