SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum's tough day began with back-to-back walks, the first two of what became a career-high six overall.
The Giants ace doesn't yet look like himself, the offense is equally as inconsistent and the World Series champions are still trying to find themselves during a difficult opening month.
"It's early, just a half of the first month of the season," slugger Pablo Sandoval said. "We're fighting, trying to put all the pieces together."
Lincecum was outpitched by Tim Hudson, Atlanta leadoff man Martin Prado drove in his team's first three runs and the Braves handed San Francisco its third straight defeat with a 5-2 win Saturday to secure just their third series victory of the season.
Hudson (3-2) followed up Tommy Hanson's strong outing a night earlier with his own impressive performance in a matchup of two undersized, hard-throwing righties who share a first name.
Hudson came within one out of a complete game. He allowed nine hits, struck out four and didn't walk a batter in an efficient, 112-pitch outing. Manager Fredi Gonzalez left Hudson in to start the ninth but he gave up Pat Burrell's leadoff double and a sacrifice fly to Miguel Tejada.
"It's pretty disappointing. Obviously to go out and get two outs in the ninth, you want to finish it," Hudson said. "My pitch count got up there and I was laboring a little bit. But I'm not a guy who takes a lot of pride in complete games."
Lincecum (2-2) was tagged for five runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings after he carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning Monday at Colorado. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner allowed his most earned runs since also giving up five last Aug. 15 against San Diego during a career-worst, five-start losing streak.
Brian McCann added a two-run single in the seventh off Javier Lopez to end an 0-for-10 drought and further back Hudson. This outing was reminiscent of the pitcher's dominant days across San Francisco Bay as a member of Oakland's "Big Three" — with Hudson still hitting 91 mph on the radar gun even at the end.
"We've got to get this offense going and tighten up the defense a little bit, but it wasn't a bad effort by Timmy," San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy said. "We're just not quite clicking. We hit some balls hard right at them but we're not getting the hit when we need it the last couple of days, or three games. That's something you ride through."
While Hudson's lone clean innings came in the first and sixth, he was helped by two double plays. He had only thrown 72 pitches through six, 23 fewer than Lincecum.
Craig Kimbrel retired pinch-hitter Buster Posey on a flyball to center for the final out for his sixth save and second in as many games.
The Giants had their streak of four straight winning series snapped. Lincecum was handed only his third loss in nine career starts against Atlanta, the team the Giants eliminated in four games in the NL division series last fall during their improbable postseason run.
"You can't accept pretty good results when you walk six guys," Lincecum said. "It's almost like a guy's on every inning. Obviously you're not helping yourself or your team with a back-against-the-wall kind of situation. Today was one of those situations where I did it to myself."
Lincecum received a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti after a one-out single to Nate McLouth and a walk to Hudson in the third. Prado then singled in Atlanta's first run to tie the game. McLouth scored that run and came home again on Prado's go-ahead single in the fifth. Prado reached on a fielder's choice in the seventh for another RBI.
Lincecum retired cleanup hitter McCann and No. 5 batter Dan Uggla in each of their first three at-bats without the ball leaving the infield.
Cody Ross had his first hit and drove in his first run of the season after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the week.
Burrell hit a one-out double in the second and easily beat a close play at the plate to score on Ross' ensuing single. After that inning, Hudson allowed only three more baserunners to reach second.
Giants Sunday starter Jonathan Sanchez was fighting a flu bug that required him to receive an IV for dehydration, but Bochy expected the left-hander to make his start.
"We think he'll be fine for tomorrow," Bochy said.
NOTES: Lincecum singled leading off the fifth for his first hit of the year after an 0-for-10 start. ... Posey had most of the day off after a night game, something Bochy will do on occasion to not overwork the reigning NL Rookie of the Year. ... Neither injured Giants CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles' tendon) nor RHP reliever Santiago Casilla (inflamed pitching elbow) will make the team's upcoming 10-game East Coast road trip. Instead, they will travel to Arizona to rehabilitate and perhaps get into some extended spring training games. ... San Francisco drew 42,395 fans for its eighth sellout in as many home games this year.