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Playoff Hopefuls Clash As Giants And Braves Kick Off Four Game Series

The Giants are the current wildcard leaders and are just a game back of the Padres. A loss on Wednesday to the Colorado Rockies kept them a game back in the NL West, and now the Giants, winners of the last five of six, are looking to use the Braves to get in front or extend their wildcard lead.

Both teams are in similar positions now and are looking for the other to break in the four-game set.

(Sports Network) - July was a pretty good month for San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. August hasn't been so bad either.

The Georgia-born Posey returns to his home state tonight hoping to help San Francisco to a fifth victory in six games as the team opens a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves in a battle of playoff hopefuls at Turner Field.

The 23-year-old Posey was named the National League's Player of the Month on Wednesday after hitting .417 with seven homers and 24 RBI in July, a month that also included a near Giants rookie-record 21-game hitting streak. He is 4-for-11 in three games so far this month, adding a double and three RBI.

Posey drove in the lone run in Wednesday's 6-1 setback to Colorado, but left the game in the sixth inning after getting hit on the shoulder by a foul ball. He isn't expected to miss tonight's game, his first in Atlanta since being drafted fifth overall in 2008.

San Francisco's loss to Colorado snapped a four-game winning streak and kept the National League Wild Card leaders a game back of San Diego for first place in the NL West.

"This is a hard place to play. Everybody who comes in will tell you that," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy of Coors Field. "You get the first [game] and want to get the second but you come up against a well-pitched game. But we're playing well in our division and can't get too down."

San Francisco has to feel good about its chances tonight versus the Braves, seeing as Tim Lincecum is the scheduled starter. The reigning two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 6-1 with a 2.70 earned run average in his career versus Atlanta, which he beat on April 11 after allowing just two runs with 10 strikeouts over seven innings.

The 26-year-old righty is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA over his last five starts since a personal two-game slide and used a new delivery on Friday to beat the Dodgers. Lincecum pitched seven innings of two-run ball and struck out nine that day. His new windup featured him bringing his hands higher up over his head before executing the pitch.

"Just so I could stay over my back foot longer," he told the Giants' website, "Lately I've had a tougher timing issue in my windup. [I wanted to] mess around with a little twerk. I guess for me it's a big twerk."

For the season, Lincecum is 11-4 with a 3.10 ERA.

His counterpart, Jair Jurrjens, will aim to remain undefeated at home this year for the Braves, as he is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in five starts at Turner Field.

The right-hander went 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his first three starts back from a two-month stint on the disabled list, but he has allowed nine runs over his last two starts. Five of those over 6 2/3 innings came in a loss at Cincinnati on Saturday.

Jurrjens, 24, is 3-4 with a 4.62 ERA on the season and 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA in three career starts against the Giants.

Atlanta upped its MLB-leading home record to 36-14 after taking two of three over the New York Mets this week. Atlanta capped that set with Wednesday's 8-3 triumph.

Brian McCann and Chipper Jones homered in the same game for the Braves for the first since June 8, 2009, and both ended with three hits. Melky Cabrera also went deep in a victory that helped the Braves stay two games up on Philadelphia for first place in the NL East.

Atlanta relievers combined to allow just one unearned run over 4 2/3 innings after starter Kris Medlen left in the fifth inning due to an injured ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that could lead to Tommy John surgery.

"There's no real news yet, the elbow hurts," Medlen said after the game. "They are calling it a strained ligament, as of right now, I'll have an MRI and you don't know until the MRI. It was just that pitch, felt a little tightness in my elbow and kind of like a strain. We'll see [Thursday]."

The Giants took two of three at home from the Braves in April and have won eight of the last 12 meetings, though it did lose three of four at Turner Field a season ago.

Current Series

4 game series vs Braves @ Turner Field

San Francisco Giants
@ Atlanta Braves

Thursday, Aug 5, 2010, 4:10 PM PDT
Turner Field

Tim Lincecum vs Jair Jurrjens

Partly cloudy,rain. Winds blowing out to center field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 95.


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