The San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves have combined for 10
runs in the first two games of their four-game series, and it’s
difficult to imagine anything but another pitchers’ duel Saturday
San Francisco’s Matt Cain and Atlanta’s Tim Hudson will each be
looking to win a fourth consecutive decision as the right-handers
square off at Turner Field.
The Giants (63-47) and Braves (62-47) would qualify for the
playoffs if the season ended Friday, and this series could be
mistaken for low-scoring postseason baseball with each team
totaling 12 hits and claiming a 3-2 win.
After Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens outdueled San Francisco ace Tim
Lincecum on Thursday, the Giants bounced back with an 11-inning
victory Friday night.
San Francisco scored the tying run in the ninth and the go-ahead
run in the 11th without a hit in either inning, with three walks
and Pat Burrell’s sacrifice fly supplying the winning margin.
“It wasn’t pretty. We’ll take it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We
didn’t do much offensively and feel fortunate.”
The Giants moved within one game of first-place San Diego in the
NL West, and they lead Philadelphia and St. Louis by 1 1/2 games in
the wild-card chase.
Atlanta has seen its NL East lead slip to one game over the
Phillies, its smallest cushion since June 27.
“You got to play nine innings. We didn’t,” third baseman Chipper
Jones said. “We hit a guy and made two errors in the ninth. Walk
three in the 11th is a recipe for disaster.”
Some of the Braves’ biggest bats are struggling. Rookie Jason
Heyward is 3 for 29 with no RBIs in his last seven games, while
Troy Glaus is batting .125 since July 20.
It likely won’t get easier for either against Cain (9-8, 2.98
Cain was 0-4 with a 7.45 ERA in his final five starts before the
All-Star break, but he’s held opponents to a .150 average while
going 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA in his last four outings.
He beat the Dodgers on Sunday, pitching 7 2-3 dominant innings
in a 2-0 win – his first victory in 15 career starts against the
San Francisco may struggle again offensively if Hudson (12-5,
2.36) continues his current pace.
In the midst of an impressive bounce-back season after missing
most of 2009 following Tommy John surgery, Hudson has allowed a
total of two runs while winning three consecutive starts, moving
among the top five in the majors in ERA.
He wasn’t at his best Monday against the Mets but still managed
to complete six strong innings in a 4-1 victory.
“It starts with the starting pitcher,” Hudson said. “You have to
set the tone early.”
Hudson limited the Giants to three hits and two runs over seven
innings in San Francisco on April 9 in his first start of the
season, but the bullpen blew the lead in a 5-4, 13-inning defeat.
Cain hasn’t faced Atlanta since 2008, when he went 2-0 with a 1.32
ERA in two matchups.