Braves-Giants Preview

Tim Lincecum flirted with a no-hitter in his last outing. He’s

been almost as dominant at home against the Atlanta Braves during

his career.

The two-time Cy Young award winner looks to remain perfect at

home against the Braves and help the San Francisco Giants avoid a

third straight loss Saturday afternoon.

Lincecum (2-1, 1.67 ERA) took a no-hitter into the seventh

inning at Coors Field on Monday, eventually allowing one run, three

hits and striking out 10 in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-1 win over

Colorado. The right-hander, who also did not allow a ball out of

the infield until the seventh, has yielded just one run in three of

his four starts.

“That’s why the guy has two Cy Young Awards,” Rockies outfielder

Carlos Gonzalez said. “Whenever you have to face a guy like that

runs are going to be hard to come by.”

The Braves (9-12) know that first-hand.

Lincecum has allowed six runs and 23 hits and struck out 45 in

38 innings over five starts – all wins – versus Atlanta at AT&T

Park. That includes a dominant effort in Game 1 of last season’s NL

Division series, in which he tossed a two-hitter and struck out 14

in a 1-0 San Francisco victory – an effort Giants manager Bruce

Bochy called one of the best he’d ever seen.

Lincecum will now try to help the Giants (10-9) bounce back from

a 4-1 loss in Friday’s series opener. San Francisco has been held

to three runs and eight hits in the last two games, after averaging

5.4 runs during a 6-1 stretch.

Chipper Jones had two RBIs on Friday as Atlanta avoided a third

straight loss. The Braves improved their lackluster record at San

Francisco to 14-23 since AT&T Park opened in 2000.

“It’s a big game for us after losing (5-3 in 12 innings

Thursday) to the Dodgers,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

“This is a resilient group, it really is.’

Including postseason, scheduled Braves starter Tim Hudson (2-2,

4.05) is 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last six starts against the

Giants. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and four hits in

seven innings of the Braves’ 3-2 home loss in NLDS Game 3 last

October.

Hudson, who gave up four runs in six innings of a 4-2 defeat at

Los Angeles on Monday, now looks to avoid losing a third

consecutive start.

Early-inning struggles have plagued Hudson this season. Seven of

the 13 runs he’s allowed have come in the first inning, including

three Monday against the Dodgers.

“(It’s) tough for our club to try and rebound from that early,”

Hudson told the Braves’ official website.

San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval is 1 for 6 versus

Hudson, but batting .328 on the season after collecting one of the

Giants’ three hits Friday.

NL championship series MVP Cody Ross went 0 for 3 with three

strikeouts in his home season debut after coming off the disabled

list from a strained calf Wednesday in Colorado. He is 2 for 15

against Hudson.