Lincecum, Giants shut down Braves

Art Spander, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- The game is not that complex. If a team pitches and hits better than the one it's playing, it's going to win. Which is exactly what the San Francisco Giants did for three games against the Atlanta Braves.
Not only did the Giants make it three in a row after dropping the Thursday series opener, but they outscored the Braves 23-4 over the final three games. San Francisco cruised to a 5-1 win Sunday afternoon.
"We haven't been real fun to watch right now," said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, who returned for the series finale after attending his daughter's graduation at Georgia Southern University.
"What did we score?" Gonzalez asked rhetorically, knowing the answer. "Four runs the past couple games. They have a good club, and any time we made a mistake, they took advantage. We haven't gone deep into a game with our pitching, and we haven't been scoring runs. They're a good team."
Unquestionably, the Giants, the defending World Series champions, also are an excellent team. And with Tim Lincecum, finally showing the effectiveness of his Cy Young Award years, 2008 and '09, San Francisco proved to be a complete team.
After going seven shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing only two hits and three walks, Lincecum said, "This was my best game of the season."
Add Lincecum's resurgence to Matt Cain regaining his magic the last two starts, balls flying off bats into the stands -- or in the case of Pablo Sandoval, into McCovey Cove -- and solid defense, and manager Bruce Bochy had numerous reasons to be elated.
"Makes you feel good when you fly off to Toronto," said Bochy as the Giants hustled to depart. "Tim didn't drop his guard all day when he got ahead. And it was good to see the long ball. Our offense did a good job. It got a little contagious."
In addition to Sandoval's second home run in two days and his sixth of the season, the Giants got homers from Marco Scutaro, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, and from Brandon Belt.
"We're playing really good ball," Bochy said. "Atlanta is a good team, and we just took three out of four from them. Tim knows how to pitch. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself it's one pitch at a time."
Atlanta's Kris Medlen (1-5) lost his fourth consecutive decision, and the Braves lost for the fifth straight time with him on the mound. It's a big turnaround for a pitcher whose team had won his past 23 regular-season starts entering the year, a major league record.
Medlen gave up five runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and five walks. All three San Francisco homers came against the 27-year-old right-hander.
"Chalk today up to one of those days when I had nothing but my courage," Medlen said. "I had to battle through every pitch. I picked a bad day to have a bad day, especially the way Lincecum threw today. I'm just glad they were all solo home runs. It could well have been nine runs."
Lincecum didn't throw perfectly, but he and the Giants gladly would accept this sort of performance every fifth day.
"He was able to throw to both sides of the plate," catcher Buster Posey said. "He threw his off-speed stuff for strikes. And when he can throw his fastballs in the zone, it makes his off-speed stuff that much more difficult to hit."
Lincecum is 3-2 but still has a 4.07 ERA.
"I was a lot better hitting spots," Lincecum said. "They weren't hitting my pitches. I wouldn't say I was any more focused. I was just thinking pitch to pitch."
A spot of different sort was the one Scutaro hit on the wall in left in the sixth, or perhaps it was the hand of a fan reaching over from the bleachers. The umps debated and went to instant replay, but while that technology can be used to determine whether a ball is over the wall or fence, it cannot be utilized for fan interference.
Scutaro wound up awarded a double.
"I thought it was a catchable ball," Gonzalez said. "I thought we might get lucky. The umpires felt like (left fielder Justin Upton) couldn't have caught that ball."
The way the last three games went, the Braves couldn't do anything to catch the Giants.
NOTES: Bochy, reflecting on Mother's Day, said of his own mother, "She played such a big part in my baseball life ... with my father being in service and gone quite a bit, she would get out there and play ball with us. She had to deal with polio, yet she still threw batting practice." ... On June 28, the Braves will retire the No. 10 of 3B Chipper Jones, who ended his 19-year-career with Atlanta at the end of the 2012 season. Jones also will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame. ... This was the Braves fifth straight Mother's Day game on the road. ... The announced attendance of 42,231was the Giants 187th consecutive sellout at AT&T, the longest streak in the majors. ... The Giants used a shift against Braves 2B Dan Uggla -- three infielders to the left field side of second. Uggla went 0-for-3 with a walk.. ... Sandoval's blast into the Bay was the Giants' 63rd splash hit in the 13 seasons the stadium has been open. ... When the score of the Golden State Warriors' 97-87 win over the San Antonio Spurs across the Bay in Oakland was shown on the scoreboard, the cheer was as loud as any during the baseball game.

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