Giants-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

Atlanta's pitching staff hasn't been too kind to opposing hitters, putting the Braves on top of the National League in several categories.

Things could get even tougher with Mike Minor returning to the starting rotation.

The left-hander is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list Friday before taking the hill against the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a three-game series.

Minor missed the opening month because of shoulder soreness, but the Braves (17-10) have done well in his absence, allowing the fewest hits (205) and runs (81) in the NL. Minor was cleared for his return after making five rehab appearances in the minors.

"We just wanted to make sure he is healthy and that he feels good," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You always want to err on that side. He looks good."

Minor, who was 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA last season, will join a rotation that leads the majors with a 2.32 ERA.

"I feel good," Minor said. "They just wanted to make sure I made all of my preparations."

Reaching base was no easy task in 2013 against Minor, who finished the season with a 1.09 WHIP to rank in the top 10 in the league. He also has been solid against San Francisco, going 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA over four career starts.

No player on the Giants' roster has ever hit a home run against Minor, but they enter this series swinging the bats well. San Francisco (17-11) has homered in its last eight games, its longest streak since a 10-game stretch to close out the 2010 season.

The Giants' 34 homers in April were their most in the month since hitting 36 in 2000.

"We're getting timely hitting and doing the little things right, grinding out at-bats a little harder," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're getting better at-bats with runners on base. The first month you're trying to get a feel where you're at. I like where we are."

The trip to Atlanta will be the first to move east of the Rocky Mountains for the Giants, who have won six of their last seven games.

Starting for the Giants will be Tim Lincecum (1-1, 5.96 ERA), who has made 13 regular-season starts against the Braves with a 2.99 ERA, though he's gone 7-6 in those outings. The right-hander has never gone fewer than five innings against Atlanta and tossed a complete game shutout against the Braves in the 2010 playoffs.

Lincecum threw 98 pitches and allowed only two earned runs his last time out, but went just 4 2-3 innings and gave up eight hits in Monday's 5-3 win over Cleveland.

"I had my game plan. I just wasn't executing it," Lincecum said. "That kind of exacerbated the feeling of hopelessness, I guess. Well, not hopelessness, but just things aren't going right."

The Braves come into the series after being swept against Miami, losing three straight for the first time all season. The biggest issues during the series were Atlanta's .188 batting average and seven total runs.

"We had some opportunities," Gonzalez said, noting the team left eight men on base in Thursday's 5-4 loss. "Now we take a flight home and stop this losing streak."

Atlanta won two of three last season against the Giants at Turner Field.

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