Braves lose 3rd straight in San Francisco
by Janie McCauley, AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Fredi Gonzalez left the Atlanta Braves for two games following a series-opening victory at San Francisco to attend his daughter's college graduation in Georgia.
He returned from the whirlwind, cross-country trek in time for the series finale Sunday to witness yet another lopsided loss against the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt each hit solo home runs against Braves starter Kris Medlen, who was outpitched by Tim Lincecum in a 5-1 defeat Sunday.
Atlanta lost its third straight since taking the opener Thursday night, outscored 23-4 over the final three games.
"We haven't been real fun to watch right now," Gonzalez said. "What did we score, four runs, the past couple games? They have a good club and any time we made a mistake they took advantage. We didn't get much of anything going until the end when we scored a run."
Medlen (1-5) lost his fourth straight decision and saw his winless stretch reach six outings since his lone victory his first time out this year, April 4 against the Phillies.
The right-hander allowed five runs, three earned, walked a season-high five and struck out one in 5 1-3 innings. After making progress in his last start, a solid start but no-decision at Cincinnati, Medlen never found his groove.
"I picked a bad day to have a bad day, especially the way Lincecum threw today," he said. "Everything I threw felt flat. I'm just glad they were all solo home runs. It very well could have been nine runs. I'm having trouble repeating myself. My stuff was the exact opposite of the stuff I had in Cincinnati in my last start."
The Braves continue their 10-game trip at Arizona, where left fielder Justin Upton will face his former Diamondbacks teammates for the first time after playing the first six years of his career in the desert.
Lincecum (3-2) struck out seven in seven scoreless innings to end a three-start winless stretch in which he went 0-2. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner also stopped a four-start skid against Atlanta, beating the Braves for the first time since April 11, 2010.
"I'll take it," Lincecum said. "But I'm not jumping up in the air right now. ... I'm happy about it, but it's still a work in progress. I'm still working to get better."
Belt hit a solo homer in the second, Sandoval connected in the third and Scutaro went deep leading off the fifth. Gregor Blanco had an RBI double.
Brandon Crawford added an RBI single in the fourth for the Giants, who concluded a 7-3 homestand. San Francisco won a home series against the NL East for the first time since April last year.
Sandoval's two-out drive in the third cleared the elevated right-field arcade and found the water, setting off a kayaking commotion to retrieve the souvenir ball.
It was the 63rd splash homer by the Giants — home run king Barry Bonds has 35 — seventh by the Kung Fu Panda and second for San Francisco this year. There have been 89 in the 14-season history of AT&T Park, including one by the Braves' Brian McCann on Friday night.
"My wife asked me to hit a home run into the water for her for Mother's Day," Medlen joked. "I must have misunderstood her, and gave up a home run that went into the water."
In just his third quality start in eight outings, Lincecum allowed a season-low two hits after being tagged for 19 over his previous two appearances. Giants closer Sergio Romo, San Francisco's fourth reliever, allowed an RBI double to pinch-hitter Evan Gattis for Atlanta's lone run.
The Braves might benefit from that dry desert air at Chase Field, where the ball carries, and leaving the Giants' pitcher-friendly ballpark.
"Everybody knows Lincecum has not been on lately but as far as we're concerned he was mixing his pitches and pitched a pretty good game," Upton said. "It's a long season and that's just baseball. You're going to hit these rough spots when things aren't going our way. We just have to tread water until we can get this thing going again."
Umpires went to review after Scutaro's fly ball in the sixth was interfered with by a fan, preventing a possible catch by Upton in left field. It was ruled a double, giving Scutaro six straight multihit games during his 12-game hitting streak.
"I thought it was a catchable ball. I thought we might get lucky," Gonzalez said. "The umpires felt like he couldn't have caught that ball."
NOTES: Atlanta's B.J. Upton played in the 1,000th game of his career. ... Braves leadoff man Jordan Schafer stole his sixth base. ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy on all the pink bats, sleeves, cleats, wristbands for breast cancer awareness on Mother's Day: "It's a great day for all of us to have a chance to honor our mothers, and really for me to reflect back and realize how blessed I was to have such a great mother, not just in raising me but she was a big part of my baseball life with my father being in the service," he said. His mother, Melrose, died in March 2007.