With help from red-hot Marco Scutaro, the San Francisco Giants will try to close out their longest homestand of the season in winning style.
Whether the Giants beat Atlanta on Sunday, though, might depend on whether Tim Lincecum can regain his form after a pair of lackluster outings.
Scutaro, the MVP of last year's NL championship series, is batting .488 (21 for 43) during an 11-game hit streak and had his fifth consecutive multihit performance in a 10-1 win Saturday. Gregor Blanco also drove in a career-high four runs as San Francisco (22-15) earned its ninth victory in 12 attempts and sixth on its homestand.
"It's more of a case that (Scutaro is) healthy," manager Bruce Bochy told the team's website. "That back issue's not there right now. He got that cleared up, and it freed him up and he's back to feeling the way he felt last year when he was swinging good, and that's 100 percent."
The Giants will conclude their 10-game stay at AT&T Park on Sunday hoping Lincecum (2-2, 4.75 ERA) can get back on track.
The right-hander has given up five runs in each of his last two outings after giving up a combined two in his previous two starts.
"That's definitely frustrating, just the lack of consistency, making a great pitch and then not repeating it," he told the team's website.
A matchup with the Braves (21-15) wouldn't appear to help his woes - he's 0-4 with a 4.38 ERA in his last four regular-season matchups.
Lincecum, however, pitched a two-hit shutout against Atlanta over that same stretch in the 2010 division series opener and has given up a combined four runs in the last two overall meetings. He allowed three over five innings in a 7-1 loss in San Francisco on Aug. 26, his only matchup with the Braves last season.
Lincecum has received zero runs of support in those past two games against Atlanta and a combined three in those four regular-season defeats.
In this one, he'll pitch opposite Kris Medlen (1-4, 3.25), who has lost three straight decisions but was solid in his most recent outing. The right-hander allowed two runs over seven innings against Cincinnati on Tuesday but did not get a decision.
Closer Craig Kimbrel gave up two runs in the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss that denied Medlen his first win since April 9.
"I was using both sides of the plate really for the first time this year consistently, throwing in and out for strikes," Medlen told the team's website. "That's the best I've felt."
Medlen lost his only start against the Giants on May 26, 2009, and Pablo Sandoval has two doubles and a home run in four career at_bats against him. Scutaro, batting .370 (10 for 27) in his last seven games versus Atlanta, has never faced the right-hander.
Brian McCann, who has a 13-game hit streak against the Giants, is 10 for 29 (.345) lifetime against Lincecum, the best showing by any active player who has faced him at least 29 times. McCann is also batting .330 in San Francisco over his career.
Since winning Thursday's series opener, the Braves have a combined 10 hits and been outscored 18-3 in their back-to-back defeats.
The Associated Press News Service
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