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Sun, Aug 26, 2012 - 8:05 PM ET
 

Braves-Giants Preview

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Their NL West rivals just made a major move. The San Francisco Giants' best counter now would be to get back into the win column.

Tim Lincecum will try to avoid his second three-start home losing streak this season Sunday night when the division-leading Giants and Atlanta Braves conclude their season series.

While the biggest headline made by the Giants (71-56) recently has been Melky Cabrera's 50-game drug suspension - and subsequent failed cover-up - the Los Angeles Dodgers made a huge splash Saturday by acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto in a blockbuster deal with Boston that could have major implications on the division race.

The Giants have a two-game lead in the West after losing to Atlanta 7-3 on Saturday before Gonzalez homered in helping the Dodgers beat the Miami Marlins 8-2 later that night.

"I don't think you react to a move another club makes - you do what's right for your club," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said prior to his team's five-game winning streak ending.

In years past, giving the ball to Lincecum (7-13, 5.30 ERA) would be the right move for the Giants, but this has been a trying season for the two-time Cy Young Award winner. The right-hander won his third consecutive road start Tuesday by throwing 5 2-3 strong innings in a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers, but he has a 5.73 ERA while losing both of his August starts at AT&T Park.

"You can't change anything that happened. You can just make better pitches now,'' Lincecum said of finishing the season strong. "Just moving forward one batter at a time. I know it's cliched, but when I break it down small like that it relieves pressure on me.''

Facing the Braves (72-55) might not be the best relief for Lincecum, who has lost his last three starts in this matchup.

While the Giants try to keep a cushion atop the West, Atlanta has a 2 1/2-game advantage over St. Louis for the first wild-card spot.

Sunday's starter Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.69 ERA) would like to help the Braves stay in that spot as he seeks a seventh straight win, but he needs to come out stronger. Of the 59 runs he's allowed, 20 have come in the first inning after he surrendered four in the opening frame of Monday's 5-4, 13-inning loss at NL East-leading Washington.

The Braves had won the right-hander's previous eight starts.

Hudson improved to 5-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his last eight starts in this matchup after going 7 1-3 innings in a 3-2 home win over the Giants on July 19.

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who is retiring after the season, is expected to be in the lineup after getting Saturday off. It will be his final career game versus San Francisco.

The Giants probably wish right fielder Jason Heyward was making his last visit after he homered for the second straight game Saturday - a three-run shot. Heyward is batting .394 (13 for 33) with five homers and 11 RBIs in nine games at San Francisco.

"The crowd always keeps you on your toes here and it's a good environment to play in,'' Heyward said. "They're always here, it's a good team and they have good pitching, so you have to focus every at-bat.''

He's 3 for 9 with a double off Lincecum.

Giants center fielder Angel Pagan, who had his eight-game hitting streak snapped Saturday, is 11 for 31 with a homer against Hudson.

Tagged: Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, Jason Heyward

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