He liked the result this time around. He commanded his fastball all night. His slider was clicking, too.
Chipper Jones(notes) hit a two-run double, Jason Heyward(notes) and Freddie Freeman(notes) each singled in runs during a decisive four-run third inning to back Hanson and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 4-1 on Friday night.
Hanson (2-3), who had a no-decision in Game 2 of the playoffs against the Giants, struck out seven and walked one in seven strong innings as the Braves won for just the second time in their last six games.
“I’m not going to lie: It felt similar to the playoffs,” Hanson said. “I didn’t have the greatest playoff start here last time. I wanted to go out and give us a chance to win.”
The Braves knocked Madison Bumgarner(notes) (0-3) out early and showed no signs of fatigue following a 5-3, 12-inning loss at Los Angeles on Thursday, taking the opener of a weekend series and rematch of last fall’s NL division series won by the World Series champion Giants.
Bumgarner was the winning pitcher in the Game 4 division series clincher at Turner Field as San Francisco advanced to face the Phillies in the NLCS, becoming the youngest pitcher in franchise history to win a postseason game at 21 years, 71 days. But he is still looking for his first win of 2011 after four starts.
San Francisco returned home to AT&T Park for a quick three-game homestand with the Braves during a stretch with 16 of 19 games on the road. Next up is a 10-game East Coast road trip through Pittsburgh, Washington and New York.
Even with the Braves in town, there was hardly the hype that came in the team’s first six-game homestand. That featured three days of World Series celebrations, then three games with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers—including a tribute to longtime fan Bryan Stow, who was severely beaten outside Dodger Stadium after the March 31 opener.
“Things have gotten back to normal,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
This time, there was no Bobby Cox standing atop the opposite dugout. The longtime manager retired after last season and was replaced by Fredi Gonzalez.
“I know Fredi well. He’s a friend,” Bochy said. “It’s still going to be strange for me to look over to that dugout and not see Bobby. I’m really going to miss him.”
Every game in that NLDS between these clubs was decided by one run. The Braves got to Bumgarner in a hurry in the third, with Nate McLouth(notes) reaching on a leadoff walk and Martin Prado(notes) drawing a free pass one out later to set up the RBIs by Heyward and Jones. Heyward, runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting last year to Giants catcher Buster Posey(notes), snapped an 0-for-14 funk with the hit.
Giants shortstop Miguel Tejada(notes) committed a fielding error—just the fourth all year by a Braves opponent—that kept the inning going. That was after the 2002 AL MVP stole a hit from Alex Gonzalez(notes) to end the second, facing the outfield as he ran the ball down in shallow left before making a lunging, backhanded catch. Tejada somersaulted after the play.
San Francisco outscored Colorado 14-4 in the first two games of its series earlier this week at Coors Field before losing 10-2 on Wednesday.
But the Giants couldn’t muster much of anything against Hanson until Pat Burrell’s(notes) RBI groundout in the seventh scored Pablo Sandoval(notes), who hit a one-out double. That was the third and final hit allowed by Hanson.
“He didn’t miss on the plate very much,” Posey said. “I didn’t feel like I had too many good pitches to hit until the third time through.”
Atlanta’s Jonny Venters(notes) tested his sore arm in a side session, then relieved Hanson and pitched a perfect eighth. Craig Kimbrel(notes) bounced back from his first blown save Thursday with a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save in six chances.
“It’s a big game for us after losing yesterday to the Dodgers,” Gonzalez said. “This is a resilient group, it really is.”
Sandoval, a late scratch Wednesday against the Rockies, received treatment for his strained right triceps muscle during Thursday’s off day and did some early hitting Friday. He was back in the lineup at third base and batted fifth.
NLCS MVP Cody Ross(notes) went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in his home debut after coming off the disabled list during the road trip. Fans in the sellout crowd of 42,404 chanted “Cody! Cody!” when he came to the plate.
Notes: Atlanta is 6-1 in the first game of a series this year. … Injured Giants CF Andres Torres(notes) likely will need more time for his strained left Achilles’ tendon to heal. While he is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, Torres hasn’t yet run the bases, sprinted at full speed to shagged flyballs. He did agility work Thursday and said he will undergo another MRI exam in the coming days. … San Francisco RHP reliever Santiago Casilla(notes), on the DL with an inflamed pitching elbow, had his first bullpen session—making 20 pitches and all fastballs. “I feel very good,” Casilla said. “I’m so happy today.” Casilla probably will throw from a mound again Tuesday. … The Braves recalled RHP Cory Gearrin from Triple-A Gwinnett to bolster their taxed bullpen and optioned OF Matt Young(notes) to Gwinnett. … San Francisco has sold out all seven of its home games.