Braves-Giants Preview


The addition of Marco Scutaro last season was a big reason the San Francisco Giants went on to win their second World Series in three years.

He's now keying their recent surge.

Scutaro looks to continue his offensive barrage as the Giants go for a second straight win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

San Francisco (21-15) acquired Scutaro from Colorado for fellow second baseman Charlie Culberson on July 27, a seemingly innocuous move to bolster the infield.

Instead, the journeyman proceeded to become one of the Giants' best hitters, batting .362 with 44 RBIs and 40 runs in 61 regular-season games. He followed that up with a .328 average in the postseason, being named MVP of the NL championship series.

Now, he's at it again.

The 37-year-old Scutaro - a career .276 hitter - has a .487 average with nine runs during a 10-game hitting streak. He kept that run going with two hits and two RBIs in Friday's 8-2 win over Atlanta (21-14), as the Giants won for the eighth time in 11 tries.

They fell 6-3 in the opener of this four-game set a day earlier.

Scutaro also had two hits in that game, and he's 8 for 23 in six games versus the Braves since joining the Giants. He had a .169 average over his first 23 career matchups.

Madison Bumgarner (3-1, 2.31 ERA) will take the mound looking to beat the Braves for the first time since Game 4 of the 2010 NL division series. He allowed two runs in six innings as the Giants eliminated Atlanta en route to their first championship since moving to San Francisco.

Since then, Bumgarner is 0-3 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts against the Braves, losing both home outings while surrendering eight runs with six walks in nine innings.

The left-hander enters this meeting with a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts, but he has an 0-1 record to show for it since he's been backed by four total runs.

Bumgarner didn't do himself any favors Monday, giving up a season-high five runs in six innings of a 6-2 loss to Philadelphia.

"My command was not as sharp as it has been," Bumgarner told the team's official website.

He'll have to contend with a hot-hitting Brian McCann, who has five hits - two homers - and seven RBIs in the past three games. He hit a two-run shot into McCovey Cove on Friday in his fourth contest since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.

"I've felt good since spring training and I carried it into the season and on my rehab stints," McCann said.

The six-time All-Star catcher certainly feels good in San Francisco, hitting .337 in 26 career games there, including the playoffs. Both of his hits in eight career at-bats against Bumgarner were home runs - one in the 2010 NLDS.

Unlike McCann, Paul Maholm (4-3, 3.09) has struggled at AT&T Park, going 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in five career starts while allowing the Giants to hit .345.

The left-hander, though, enters this meeting as one of the Braves' more reliable starters, yielding two runs or fewer in five of his seven outings. He ended a three-start losing streak Monday, allowing two runs and four hits with six strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-4 win at Cincinnati.

Bench coach Carlos Tosca will serve the second of two scheduled games as the Braves' interim manager in place of Fredi Gonzalez, who is in Georgia to attend his daughter's college graduation.