San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Barry Zito pitched into the ninth inning on Thursday and the San Francisco Giants used a four-run fifth to down the Atlanta Braves, 5-2, in the opener of a four-game series between the playoff hopefuls.
Zito (10-8) allowed five hits, walked three, struck out five and left after allowing a pair of singles to begin the ninth. The 34-year-old lefty improved to 5-1 lifetime against Atlanta.
Tommy Hanson (12-6) 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.
"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."
Pagan scored again in the fifth when he worked a leadoff walk, moved up on Marco Scutaro's base hit and crossed the plate when Hunter Pence placed a bunt single past Hanson to the right side of the infield.
Scutaro came home when Freeman couldn't handle Brandon Belt's grounder toward first base and Sanchez followed with a double down the right-field line to cap the frame.
"What a job he's done since he's assumed the leadoff spot," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Pagan. "He's really picked up his game since he's gone to the leadoff spot. He's playing as good ball as anybody."
The Braves, one of the two NL wild card leaders, have lost five of their last six games.
"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.
The Giants have won each of Zito's last four appearances ... Zito held the Braves scoreless over seven innings in a July 17 victory ... Hanson suffered his first loss since July 2 ... Atlanta went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
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