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Braves Avoid Historical Sweep With 3-2 Victory

Posted By Jourdan Shepard On Jul 20 2012 @ 12:29 am In Atlanta Braves | No Comments

The Atlanta Braves avoid the franchise’s first-ever sweep at Turner Field to the San Francisco Giants with a 3-2 win despite being outhit 9-3.

Entering Thursday’s game, the Braves (50-41) were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the series, and three of their four runs were home runs. All three of Atlanta’s runs on Thursday came in the first four innings thanks to Freddie Freeman, David Ross, and Michael Bourn.

After the Giants manufactured a 1-0 lead using three singles in the second inning, Freeman responded with a solo home run (13) to right field on the first pitch he was offered.

(Getty Images) Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by Brian Snitker after hitting a second-inning home run against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field.

“I finally got my swing where I want it to be, since I have confidence in my hand and my eyes,” Freeman, who recently recovered from vision and finger problems, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “It’s taken me awhile, but we finally got there.

The Braves first baseman has recently caught fire at the plate in his last 23 games hitting .349 with five homers and 19 RBIs.

Bourn aided Atlanta’s offensive efforts in the third inning with a triple to deep left field that scored Paul Janish from second base to take the lead 2-1. Ross pushed the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run (5) that landed in centerfield.

“Freddie’s homer I thought was much bigger than mine,” Ross told the AP. “Coming off [Wednesday night's 11-inning loss], it was nice to get the momentum back early in the game.”

Braves starter Tim Hudson (8-4) needed only those three runs to sustain the lead until he handed the ball off to Eric O’Flaherty after 7 1/3 innings. Hudson was extremely efficient throughout his outing as he only threw 53 pitches in the first five innings of the game and finished with 95 pitches. Atlanta’s workhorse scattered eight hits and struck out three Giants, but Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval scored on his watch. Craig Kimbrel closed the game with his NL-leading 28th save of the season and 20th in a row.

Despite winning the first two games of the series 9-0 and 9-4, the NL West-leading Giants (51-41) acknowledge that they have had difficulty providing consistent offensive support for their pitchers since the second half of the season began.

“Really, when you think about it, since we’ve gotten into the second half we’ve gotten some wins but we’re not clicking offensively,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the Associated Press (AP). ”We have to do a better job of getting runners in.”

Starter Madison Bumgarner (11-6), relief pitcher Clay Hensley, and Bochy could only watch their fellow Giants leave seven runners in scoring position on base compared to Atlanta’s two.

“We couldn’t get a timely hit,” Bochy told the AP. “That was the difference in the game.”

Bochy’s pitchers did all they could for eight innings to enhance the team’s chances of sweeping the Braves in Atlanta for the first time since 1988 when the teams played at the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Giants’ lefty walked off of the mound after seven innings giving up only three hits and striking out eight Braves, but allowed three runs, two earned. Hensley pitched one inning of shutout ball and coerced Bourn to strike out swinging to end the eighth inning.

This Giants’ loss ends Bumgarner’s streak of seven straight decisions with a win, which began on May 26.

“I didn’t give up a lot of hits today so I felt good,” Bumgarner said. “The homers killed me.”

Atlanta will now head to Washington, D.C. for a four-game series against the N.L. East-leading Nationals, who are ahead of the Braves by 3 1/2 games. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will send Tommy Hanson (10-5) to the mound, while Atlanta’s offense will take on Stephen Strasberg (10-4).

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