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 night.
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.
“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.
It likely won’t get easier for either against Cain (9-8, 2.98 ERA).
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 Giants’ archrivals.
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.