Braves sweep Giants in extra innings
All those times Brian Wilson and his bushy, black beard strutted around AT&T Park after wins last postseason was enough for the Atlanta Braves.
They made sure there was no encore Sunday.
Nate McLouth hit a two-run single off Wilson with two outs in the 10th inning, and the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 for a three-game sweep in a rematch of last season’s NL division series.
”The environment in here is really second to none. So to walk out of here with a sweep, it’s something not a lot of teams do,” McLouth said. ”And we did it.”
The Braves beat ace Tim Lincecum, postseason nemesis Madison Bumgarner and Wilson over the three games to highlight a weekend at San Francisco’s waterfront ballpark they won’t soon forget.
The finale had contributions from all over: Jason Heyward hit a three-run homer and a double, then singled in the 10th. Dan Uggla homered and Chipper Jones had a two-run double, single and walked twice on his 39th birthday.
The result was Atlanta’s first sweep of any kind in San Francisco since 1998.
”You win three games off the world champs,” Jones said, ”and confidence is at a different level.”
Heyward and Jones started the 10th inning with singles against Wilson (0-1) before Uggla walked to load the bases. Wilson got two quick outs and nearly escaped the jam before McLouth’s grounder up the middle provided the go-ahead runs. Brian McCann added an RBI single off Dan Runzler.
Eric O’Flaherty (1-1) pitched two innings for the win and Jonny Venters earned his first save of the season.
Buster Posey had a two-run homer and Aaron Rowand hit a two-run double to help the Giants erase a three-run deficit and take a 6-5 lead in the seventh. But the World Series champions couldn’t match their postseason magic from a year ago, when they beat the Braves in four games en route to the title – including saves by Wilson in Games 3 and 4.
”We know we’re not playing Giants baseball right now,” said Wilson, who led the majors with 48 saves last season. ”We’re scuffling a little bit, but we’re still right in the thick of things. (Our record) is not horrible considering the kind of games we have lost. We just need to get on a good role and start remembering how to play good baseball.”
Atlanta came out hot from the start.
Jones hit a two-run double that zipped past diving third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the first inning to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. Then Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez found his groove and showed no signs of a flu bug that forced him to have intravenous fluids a day earlier. He struck out five and allowed two hits and three walks in five innings.
Braves starter Brandon Beachy retired the first 11 batters with relative ease until Aubrey Huff hit a towering double off the right-field wall and Posey followed with a home run in the fourth.
Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt walked two batters in the seventh before Heyward – the runner-up to Posey for the NL Rookie of the Year last season – hit his fifth home run to put Atlanta ahead 5-2.
The Giants came back with three consecutive singles off reliever Jairo Asencio. Miguel Tejada walked to drive in a run, Nate Schierholtz had an RBI grounder and Rowand’s double put San Francisco ahead.
Uggla led off the eighth with a tying homer against Sergio Romo for his fifth shot of the season. The Braves bullpen held the Giants scoreless from there until their bats broke through against Wilson in extra innings.
”I don’t even know how to start,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”Let’s get out of here because it looks like that club was starting to get hot.”
NOTES: Atlanta’s Brandon Hicks made his first major league start in place of shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez came in the game in the seventh. … Jones has a .435 batting average (20 for 46) with 12 RBIs on his birthday. … Giants CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles’ tendon) and RHP reliever Santiago Casilla (inflamed pitching elbow) will travel to Arizona on Monday to rehabilitate and perhaps play in some extended spring training games. Manager Bruce Bochy said it was unlikely either would join the team during the upcoming 10-game road trip. …