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Playoff hopefuls square off AT&T Park

The surging San Francisco Giants take aim at their longest winning streak since the middle of July as they continue a four-game series versus the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Coming off a three-game sweep of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants won Thursday's opener with the Braves 5-2, moving three games ahead of the idle Dodgers for first place in the NL West.

Barry Zito pitched into the ninth inning, giving up two of his five hits in the game to begin the frame. He was charged with two runs after Atlanta's Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double off reliever Jeremy Affeldt.

Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo combined to record the final three outs, with Romo logging his sixth save of the season.

"When you do it by committee that's the way it goes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We have four really good guys we're comfortable with to go out there to finish off a game."

Hector Sanchez went 2-for-4 and hit a two-run double for the Giants, who will try to win five straight for the first time since July 13-18.

Sanchez got the start at catcher in place of Buster Posey, who sat out his second game in a row due to a tight right hamstring. He was available to pinch-hit and could start tonight.

Tommy Hanson took the loss in his second start since returning from the 15-day disabled list. He was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings.

"The good thing is we came back and they used (three) guys there in the ninth inning so we got into their bullpen a little bit," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, looking ahead to Friday's game.

The Braves, who own the first wild card spot, have lost five of their last six games and trail the NL East-leading Washington Nationals by 6 1/2 games.

Friday's pitching matchup will feature a pair of hurlers looking to avoid a third straight loss.

For the Giants, Ryan Vogelsong has lasted just a total of 5 2/3 innings over is two-game slide, giving up 11 runs, 17 hits and three walks while striking out 12. He was charged with three runs over three-plus innings of a loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday, logging 96 pitches before his exit.

"My stuff was OK today," Vogelsong said. "Once again, I can't control where the ball goes after it comes out of my hand."

The 35-year-old righty is 10-7 with a 2.85 earned run average in 23 starts, up from a 2.27 ERA prior to his slide, and is 5-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 12 home outings.

Vogelsong did not factor into a July 18 start in Atlanta, giving up a run over six innings with seven strikeouts.

Ben Sheets gets the call for the Braves and has lost three of four since winning his first three starts with the club.

The 34-year-old has allowed 10 earned runs in back-to-back losses to the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, lifting his season ERA from 1.41 to 3.07. He gave up a career-high four homers versus the Dodgers on Saturday.

Sheets, a right-hander is 4-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 10 career starts versus the Giants and has gone at least six innings in all seven of his starts in 2012.

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