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Braves 5, Giants 0

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Heyward ignited a three-run sixth inning with a stunning slide at home plate as the Atlanta Braves snapped a five-game road losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.

Matching their highest run total since April 19 and getting 6 1/3 innings of shutout pitching from left-hander Mike Minor, the Braves beat the Giants for the first time in five meetings this season by busting open a 1-0 game thanks in large part to Heyward's athletic baserunning.

The critical confrontation at the plate between Heyward and Giants catcher Buster Posey occurred after the Atlanta right fielder had led off the sixth with a single and alertly took second on left fielder Justin Upton's flyball to center.

First baseman Freddie Freeman then blooped a single to right field and Braves third base coach Doug Dascenzo chose to challenge Hunter Pence's arm.

The throw to the plate had Heyward beaten by 15 feet, but the 6-foot-5 leadoff hitter managed to avoid Posey's standing tag with a body-contorting, head-first dive, stunning the standout catcher and prompting a challenge from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

It took the umpires just 35 seconds to confirm the call on replay, and Posey never argued.

Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong, who had limited the Braves to one run on three hits in the first five innings, never recovered. He walked catcher Evan Gattis and, after getting a second out, served up RBI singles to center fielder B.J. Upton and shortstop Andrelton Simmons to complete the game-changing, three-run uprising.

The four-run cushion was more than enough for Minor (1-2), who was making just his third start of the season. He allowed only three hits, including a pair of Pence doubles, in his 6 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out six.

Left-hander Ian Thomas pitched out of a seventh-inning jam, right-hander Anthony Varvaro stranded a runner in scoring position in the eighth and righty David Hale worked around a hit and a walk in the ninth to complete Atlanta's second combined shutout in the past four games.

The Braves, who have not reached double figures in hits in any of their last 15 games, out-hit the Giants 9-5. Freeman had two of Atlanta's

nine hits and drove in two of its five runs.

Seeking to run his streak of starts without a loss to four, Vogelsong (1-2) instead suffered the loss after having allowed four runs on seven hits. He walked one and matched his career high with eight strikeouts.

Posey had a chance to atone for his mistake when he came to the plate with two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth. But he struck out meekly on a Minor fastball to end the threat and leave the Giants down 4-0.

The Braves added an insurance run in the seventh thanks to a call overturned on replay. Freeman got the RBI, scoring second baseman Tyler Pastornicky from third base, when he was deemed safe at first base following what had initially appeared to be an inning-ending double play grounder.

The Braves put themselves in what has been an unbeatable position this season when they opened the game's scoring in the top of the fourth. Atlanta entered the game 13-0 when scoring first.

Gattis' one-out triple to right-center scored Freeman, who had singled, with the run.

NOTES: Before the game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez announced LHP Alex Wood would be inserted back into the starting rotation Saturday in St. Louis and the club would use a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future. Following RHP Julio Teheran in the series finale in San Francisco on Wednesday, the Braves are now scheduled to start RHP Julio Teheran on Friday, Wood on Saturday and RHP Aaron Harang on Sunday in the trip-concluding series at St. Louis. ... The Braves have faced right-handed starting pitchers in six consecutive games, a run that will end Wednesday when they see Giants ace LHP Madison Bumgarner. ... Giants 1B Brandon Belt had surgery to have two pins inserted into his broken left thumb Tuesday. His timetable remains the same -- he is expected to be out six weeks. ... For the second consecutive game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave someone his first start of the season at first base in Belt's place. Backup C Hector Sanchez got the call Tuesday after OF Michael Morse had the assignment Monday.
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