Struggling Giants get swept by Braves
SAN FRANCISCO – If the World Series champions needed a reminder that a repeat performance won't be easy, the Atlanta Braves gave it to them this weekend.
Ace Tim Lincecum struggled. Postseason star Madison Bumgarner took a loss. Then closer Brian Wilson and his bushy, black beard came in for the finale trying to salvage at least one victory.
Not this time.
Nate McLouth hit a two-run single off Wilson with two outs in the 10th inning, and the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 on Sunday for a three-game sweep in a rematch of last season's NL division series.
"We came home, we were playing good. We thought we'd be taking series and then come home and get swept," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's hard to explain. We'll try to find it and get it back on the road."
The Giants start a 10-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and would rather leave memories of their weekend at home behind.
The Braves had contributions from all over: Jason Heyward hit a three-run homer and a double, then singled in the 10th. Dan Uggla homered and Chipper Jones had a two-run double, single and walked twice on his 39th birthday.
The result was Atlanta's first sweep of any kind in San Francisco since 1998.
"We just went through a rough stretch with throwing strikes," Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "I cost us three runs today because I walked two guys myself. Atlanta had a pretty patient approach. They're one of the more patient teams we've seen this year. They were tracking balls pretty good and they took some pretty good pitches, too.
"So credit their hitters for that. But we need to do a better job of not issuing free passes because that's going to hurt us."
Even one of San Francisco's most steady hands — Wilson — failed in the finale.
Heyward and Jones started the 10th inning with singles against Wilson (0-1) before Uggla walked to load the bases. Wilson got two quick outs and nearly escaped the jam before McLouth's grounder up the middle provided the go-ahead runs. Brian McCann added an RBI single off Dan Runzler.
Eric O'Flaherty (1-1) pitched two innings for the win and Jonny Venters earned his first save of the season.
Buster Posey had a two-run homer and Aaron Rowand hit a two-run double to help the Giants erase a three-run deficit and take a 6-5 lead in the seventh. But the World Series champions couldn't match their postseason magic from a year ago, when they beat the Braves in four games en route to the title — including saves by Wilson in Games 3 and 4.
"We know we're not playing Giants baseball right now," said Wilson, who led the majors with 48 saves last season. "We're scuffling a little bit, but we're still right in the thick of things. (Our record) is not horrible considering the kind of games we have lost. We just need to get on a good role and start remembering how to play good baseball."
Atlanta came out hot from the start.
Jones hit a two-run double that zipped past diving third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the first inning to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. Then Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez found his groove and showed no signs of a flu bug that forced him to have intravenous fluids a day earlier. He struck out five and allowed two hits and three walks in five innings.
Braves starter Brandon Beachy retired the first 11 batters with relative ease until Aubrey Huff hit a towering double off the right-field wall and Posey followed with a home run in the fourth.
Affeldt walked two batters in the seventh before Heyward — the runner-up to Posey for the NL Rookie of the Year last season — hit his fifth home run to put Atlanta ahead 5-2.
The Giants came back with three consecutive singles off reliever Jairo Asencio. Miguel Tejada walked to drive in a run, Nate Schierholtz had an RBI grounder and Rowand's double put San Francisco ahead.
Uggla led off the eighth with a tying homer against Sergio Romo for his fifth shot of the season. The Braves bullpen held the Giants scoreless from there until their bats broke through against Wilson in extra innings.
NOTES: Giants CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles' tendon) and RHP reliever Santiago Casilla (inflamed pitching elbow) will travel to Arizona on Monday to rehabilitate and perhaps play in some extended spring training games. Bochy said it was unlikely either would join the team during the upcoming 10-game road trip. ... Huff snapped an 0-for-13 skid with his double in the fourth. ... The announced crowd of 42,295 was the ninth straight sellout in San Francisco this season.