Braves-Giants Preview


While their division rivals may be on the verge of a major trade, the San Francisco Giants are feeling confident with the group they have, even without Melky Cabrera.

Madison Bumgarner goes for his 15th win Saturday when the NL West-leading Giants continue their series against the Atlanta Braves, looking to win their season-high sixth straight game.

As the Los Angeles Dodgers tried to complete a blockbuster deal with Boston to land Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett as part of a nine-player trade Friday, San Francisco continued its winning ways with a 5-3 victory. Angel Pagan went 4 for 5 and scored twice while Ryan Vogelsong went 6 1-3 innings and overcame three homers - two by Freddie Freeman.

Pagan is 18 for 35 (.514) with five doubles, two triples and 12 runs scored during an eight-game hitting streak.

"He's really done great. Obviously, he's the catalyst,'' reliever Javier Lopez said of Pagan. "Everybody's stepped up in Melky's absence. It's a new era every night."

The Giants (71-55) have won 10 of 13 to take a three-game lead over the Dodgers. The rotation is responsible for all five wins of the current streak while recording a 1.80 ERA.

With Bumgarner (14-7, 2.83 ERA) on the mound Saturday, that run figures to continue. He is 4-2 with a 1.93 ERA in his last eight starts.

The left-hander's last two outings have been particularly exceptional. After tossing a five-hitter in a 6-1 victory against Washington on Aug. 14, he scattered four hits and struck out 10 in eight scoreless innings of a 2-1 win over the Dodgers on Monday to set a career high in wins.

"We had our hands full with Madison,'' Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. ''He gives you a lot of angles with that crossfire (delivery), and that cutter kind of comes out of his shoulder. We didn't have a whole lot of chances.''

Bumgarner, however, is 0-2 with a 3.78 ERA in three starts against the Braves. He allowed three runs and three hits, including two homers, while striking out eight over seven innings of a 3-2 loss July 19.

He'll try to hand the Braves (71-55) a third straight loss. They still hold the first NL wild card despite losing six of seven, hitting .197 and averaging 2.4 runs in that span.

''It's getting frustrating, honestly,'' Freeman said. ''We're a winning team and we're just not winning right now.''

The lack of offense doesn't bode well for Mike Minor (6-10, 4.74), who will try to avoid losing a fourth straight start.

Atlanta hasn't provided Minor any run support his last three outings. He allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers last Sunday.

"I thought he was outstanding," said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who noted Minor escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning. "He got into a jam early and wiggled out of it. It's nice to see that maturity that he can get out of those jams."

The left-hander has a 0.75 ERA in two starts against the Giants. He surrendered one run and three hits in six innings of a 9-4 loss in 11 innings on July 18, striking out seven.