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Bumgarner strikes out 11 in baffling Braves

Seven strong innings beat Atlanta as Giants seek series sweep

Madison Bumgarner throws a pitch in his seven strong innings on Saturday to defeat the Atlanta Braves.

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ / Associated Press
Published: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 7:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 7:12 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner didn't take any personal satisfaction from his first career victory over the Atlanta Braves.

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Madison Bumgarner throws a pitch in his seven strong innings on Saturday to defeat the Atlanta Braves.

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ / Associated Press

There's no doubt what it meant to his team.

Bumgarner struck out a season-high 11 over seven innings, Gregor Blanco entered in the fifth as a pinch hitter and drove in four runs, and the San Francisco Giants routed the Atlanta Braves 10-1 Saturday.

The North Carolina native grew up rooting for the Braves and had been winless against them in four previous starts. Bumgarner (4-1) gave up just four hits and walked two, winning for the first time since April 13.

“They've got as good a shot as anybody to play October baseball,” Bumgarner said of the Braves. “When you play a team like that, you want to play your best baseball, too.”

Blanco had a three-run double and triple in setting a career high for RBIs.

San Francisco's rotation, considered one of the best in the majors, has struggled early this season. But ace Matt Cain tossed eight innings of three-hit ball in Friday's win, and coupled with Bumgarner's effort, the Giants can claim the four-game series with a victory in today's finale.

It was a frustrating day for the National League East-leading Braves. Dan Uggla struck out four times and Chris Johnson went down swinging three times. After a victory in Thursday's opener, the Braves have mustered just 10 hits and been outscored 18-3.

“He's nasty,” Johnson said. “For me, he is one of the best lefties in the game. He throws his cutter in to righties. He makes righties feel uneasy.”

They hurt themselves defensively Saturday, and lefty Paul Maholm (4-4) lasted just 4 1/3 innings and was charged with six runs on eight hits.

The Giants led 2-1 when they broke the game open with a four-run fifth, aided by the adventures of Braves right fielder Justin Upton.

Upton let Marco Scutaro's liner skip past him for a one-out triple. After Pablo Sandoval was hit by a pitch, Buster Posey drove an RBI double deep to right that Upton made an awkward attempt on as it bounced up against the wall. Hunter Pence was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Braves interim manager Carlos Tosca called on Cory Gearrin to relieve Maholm.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent up Blanco to hit for Francisco Peguero, and Blanco delivered a three-run double to right-center that extended the Giants' lead to 6-1.

“It is definitely a difficult outfield,” Upton said. “You definitely have to make a decision pre-pitch on how aggressive you want to be.”

Blanco was at it again in the eighth, when the Giants batted around and tacked on four more. His liner to left field skipped past a charging Evan Gattis and went for an RBI triple. Blanco is 9 for 19 this season with runners in scoring position.

San Francisco's starting pitchers entered the day with a 4.48 ERA, which ranked 13th out of 15 NL teams. Bumgarner rebounded after his worst outing of the season, when he gave up five runs in six innings against Philadelphia on Monday.

“That's a tough lineup to go through and he did quite a job for us,” Bochy said.

Johnson, the Braves third baseman, struck out swinging in all three at-bats against Bumgarner. “He's nasty,” Johnson said. “For me, he is one of the best lefties in the game. He throws his cutter in to righties. He makes righties feel uneasy.”

Sandoval's homer in the first gave the Giants an early lead. Brandon Crawford doubled in a run in the fourth to make it 2-0, one of two hits the left-handed hitting Crawford had off Maholm.

Maholm entered Saturday having yielded just four hits to lefties all season.

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