WASHINGTON - Tim Hudson and Stephen Strasburg were so sharp, it became evident very early there would be little margin for error.
The Nationals made the game's most costly miscue, and that helped the Braves emerge with a 3-1 victory Saturday in a showdown between the top two teams in the NL East.
Hudson pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, Evan Gattis hit a third-inning homer after an errant two-out throw, and the Braves escaped with their eighth straight win.
Strasburg (1-2) didn't give up an earned run in his six innings of work, but Atlanta got all the offense it needed when Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman threw wildly to first base after fielding Justin Upton's grounder and Gattis followed with his fourth home run in eight big-league games.
"In close games like today, well-pitched games, it's the little things you have to do that win the game," Hudson said. "They made one mistake that cost them the game, and we were pretty solid all day."
Zimmerman's error was Washington's 10th in 11 games.
"It was just a bad throw," Zimmerman said. "Unfortunately, today they took advantage of it. Stephen threw the ball so well today, and when you do that, and that happens in a game like that, you feel bad. But that's part of the game."
Hudson (2-0) allowed one run, walked none and struck out three in improving his lifetime record against Washington to 15-5. Not only did the right-hander outpitch Strasburg, but he also hit two singles off Washington's hard-throwing ace.
"I bet you he had more fun getting those two hits than pitching seven innings," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Hudson said, "I'm not supposed to hit, so it was a little exciting getting those two knocks there, especially against a guy throwing that hard."
Hudson permitted only one runner past second base - Danny Espinoza, who hit a solo homer in the fifth.