Tommy Hanson needed a couple of innings to get comfortable after a 10-day layoff.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “It took a while to get my release point going, but once I got in the groove a little bit, everything came together.”
Hanson struck out 11 to remain unbeaten, Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer, and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 11-3 on Monday night in Jonathan Sanchez‘s first start since his no-hitter.
Matt Diaz had a tiebreaking two-run triple in Atlanta’s six-run seventh inning, helping the Braves snap a five-game skid against San Francisco. Atlanta has won four of five and six of eight overall.
Sanchez struck out eight over six solid innings in his first game since his gem against San Diego on July 10. He gave up three runs and four hits.
“I felt the same,” Sanchez said, comparing his last two starts. “I was comfortable. Everything was working. I had a good slider and good location. I didn’t walk but one guy.”
Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: “He pitched very well against a tough lineup. He gave up a couple of home runs, but he kept his composure.”
Sergio Romo (2-1) replaced Sanchez and failed to record an out, allowing four runs and four hits. Casey Kotchman had an RBI single after Diaz tripled, and pinch-hitter Ryan Church greeted Justin Miller with a two-run homer. Brian McCann added a run-scoring single.
Diaz came up big after fouling off two sacrifice attempts against Romo.
“It’s embarrassing I can’t do it in the big leagues,” Diaz said. “It worked out well, but needless to say, there will be extra bunting practice in the near future.”
San Francisco’s bullpen had allowed a major league-low 93 earned runs. The Giants have lost four of five since winning seven of nine.
Hanson (5-0) gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. His 11 Ks were the most by an Atlanta rookie, topping the 10 accomplished four times – most recently by Jair Jurrjens on Sept. 11 against Colorado.
Because the Braves needed a reliever after Hanson recorded his second straight no-decision in Atlanta’s 7-6 loss July 9 at Colorado, he was optioned to the minors in a procedural move. Atlanta called him back up Monday morning, but Hanson’s only work on the mound during the 10-day layoff was with pitching coach Roger McDowell at Turner Field.
“Tommy had his best all-around stuff tonight, I think, with all the strikeouts,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He was around the plate all night with strike one many times and he used his fastball to set up the breaking balls. He had them guessing. He had a lot of movement and a lot of strikes.”
Randy Winn hit a two-run double off Hanson in the first, but Garret Anderson connected in the second and Jones went deep in the third to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead. It was Anderson’s seventh of the season and No. 11 for Jones.
Hanson retired 14 straight, six on strikeouts, before center fielder Nate McLouth misjudged a fly ball by Juan Uribe with one out in the seventh. Uribe, credited with a triple, slid safely into third after Anderson picked up the ball behind McLouth and made a late throw.
After pinch-hitter Fred Lewis walked, Aaron Rowand tied it at 3 with a sacrifice fly. The Giants put runners on first and second with two out, but Hanson retired Pablo Sandoval on a soft groundout.
“I think this is the best my arm’s felt,” Hanson said. “I felt like I was running out of gas but I wanted to battle through. I always want to stay in the game.”
Bob Howry allowed two runs in the eighth on Church’s RBI single and McLouth’s sacrifice fly.
Giants CF Rowand jogged off the field with no out in the eighth and was replaced by Andres Torres. Rowand, who was hit on the right forearm by a pitch from Hanson leading off the game, flinched in pain as he made a relay throw after picking up Kotchman’s single. “The contusion got tighter and tighter as the game wore on,” said Rowand, who went 0 for 2 and is hitless in his last 19 at-bats. “I’m going to ice it again tonight. Hopefully this knot will go away.” … The Braves sent RHP Luis Valdez to Triple-A Gwinnett to make room for Hanson. … Bochy said rookie LHP Ryan Sadowski (2-1) will start opposite Derek Lowe (8-7) on Tuesday. … McLouth snapped a season-worst 0 for 17 hitless skid with a third-inning single. … Anderson’s homer was the first this year that Sanchez has allowed to a left-handed batter.