Totally Freaked out;Lincecum's two-hitter overpowers Braves.;Right-hander outduels Lowe in series

October 8, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO --- The Braves waited five years to get back to the postseason, then got dominated in their first game back under the bright lights.

Tim Lincecum allowed two hits and one walk with 14 strikeouts to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 1-0 win against the Braves in the opener of a National League Division Series on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

The long-haired "Freak" set a franchise postseason strikeout record and handed the Braves their 16th loss in their past 23 postseason games.

Braves starter Derek Lowe pitched well and allowed only four hits, one run and four walks in 5 1/3 innings. But one or two mistakes was all it took to sink him on a night when Braves hitters looked completely overmatched against Lincecum, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.


Lincecum has a 6-2 record in eight regular-season starts against the Braves, with 61 strikeouts in 53 innings, including two double-digit strikeout games.

But he topped all of those performances on the bigger stage of the playoffs Thursday, turning the Braves inside-out and leaving them flailing at pitches in and out of the strike zone. It was the first postseason game of his career.

The Braves had a penchant for working the counts and getting to the opponent's bullpen during the season. It was a big reason they were able to lead the majors in last at-bat wins.

But they came out swinging against Lincecum.

Between Omar Infante's first-inning leadoff double and Brian McCann's one-out double in the seventh, Lincecum retired 19 of 20 batters, including 10 via strikeouts.

The Braves' only baserunner between those hits was Jason Heyward, who drew a leadoff walk in the fourth inning and was stranded when the next three batters popped out (Derrek Lee), flied out (McCann) and fouled out (Alex Gonzalez).

Lowe was 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA in eight regular-season starts at AT&T Park, and 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his past five starts against the Giants, and was 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in September to beat out Lincecum for NL Pitcher of the Month.

Combine that with his postseason success, and it was easy to see why the Braves felt confident with Lowe going to the mound. The Braves needed to win badly with Lowe on the mound, especially given the nature of short (best-of-five) series and how quickly momentum can be set.

But they've won only one game in six over the past two seasons at San Francisco, and only five of 17 over the past five seasons.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead on Cody Ross' two-out single in the fourth inning, after the second-base umpire possibly missed a call and Omar Infante definitely missed a ball at third.

Buster Posey, the Giants' rookie star from Leesburg, led off the fourth with a single and stole second base on a pitch that struck out Pat Burrell. Replays appeared to show the tag was made on Posey before he touched the base.

Lowe struck out the next hitter, Juan Uribe, then intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval to bring up Ross, the former Marlin. He hit a grounder between third and shortstop that Infante seemed ready to field before the ball skipped past his glove without touching it.

The ball scooted into left field to score Posey from second for the 1-0 lead.

Lowe worked out of a jam in the third inning by striking out Aubrey Huff with runners at second and third. Ross walked and Andres Torres reached on an error by second baseman Brooks Conrad, who has an error in five consecutive games.

Lowe got out of another tight spot unscathed in the sixth with a big assist from rookie reliever Jonny Venters, who came on with runners at first and third and immediately induced an inning-ending double-play grounder by Sandoval.

Posey had led off the sixth with a double over the head of center fielder Rick Ankiel and off the base of the fence. Posey went to third when Ankiel failed to pick up the ball cleanly, the second error for the mistake-prone Braves.

In the National League, only Pittsburgh and Washington made more errors this season than the Braves (126), and those teams made only one more apiece. No other NL playoff team had more than 83.

NLDS: Braves vs. Giants

Giants lead series 1-0

Thursday: Giants 1, Braves 0

Today: Braves (Hanson 10-11) at Giants (Cain 13-11), 9:37 p.m.

Sunday: Giants (Sanchez 13-9) at Braves (Hudson 17-9), 4:37 p.m.

Monday*: Giants at Braves,

7:37 p.m. or 8:37 p.m.

Wednesday*: Braves at Giants, 8:07 p.m. or 9:37 p.m.

All on TBS, 680, 100.5 * if necessary.

Bay-area Braves nation

Catching up with Atlanta fans at AT&T Park in San Francisco. C9

Saito not on series roster

Braves' top setup man recovering from sore shoulder. C8

More baseball playoffs

Rangers up 2-0: Texas poised to win its first ever playoff series. C9

Yankees also up 2-0: New York sweeps first two in Minnesota. C9

Today's other game

Reds at Phillies, 6:07 p.m., TBS

NL Division Series: Giants 1, Braves 0

Game 1 Thursday

at San Francisco

Giants 1, Braves 0

(Giants lead series 1-0)

Game 2 today

9:37 p.m. at San Francisco

TV; radio: TBS; 680, 100.5

Tommy Hanson, Braves (10-11),

vs. Matt Cain, Giants (13-11)Game 3 Sunday

4:37 p.m. at Turner Field

TV; radio: TBS; 680, 100.5

Jonathan Sanchez, Giants (13-9), vs. Tim Hudson, Braves (17-9)Game 4 Monday

7:37 or 8:37 p.m. at Turner Field

TV; radio: TBS; 680, 100.5

(if necessary)

Pitchers to be determinedGame 5 Wednesday

8:07 or 9:37 p.m. at San Fran.

TV; radio: TBS; 680, 100.5

(if necessary)

Pitchers to be determined