(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves shoot for a series victory over the San Francisco Giants this afternoon, when the two playoff-hopeful clubs collide in the finale of a four-game set from Turner Field.
The National League East-leading Braves have won two of the first three meetings of this series and are coming off Saturday's 3-0 victory behind eight shutout innings from starter Tim Hudson. Hudson improved to 13-5 this season and struck out six batters, while Billy Wagner was able to record his 27th save. Wagner blew the save in Friday's 3-2 loss in 11 innings.
"Any time you bounce back from a loss is huge. Any starter, when you can get a nice lead in the game, it makes your job a lot easier. You can be aggressive and pound the zone and that's pretty much what I did," said Hudson.
Troy Glaus drove in two runs and Rick Ankiel had the other RBI for the Braves, who have won four of six games and lead the division by two games over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils lost to the New York Mets last night.
Atlanta will hand the ball to Derek Lowe this afternoon and he's 1-4 with a 4.50 earned run average in his last seven starts. Lowe did not record a decision in Tuesday's 3-2 loss versus the Mets, as he allowed just one run in six innings of work.
Lowe, who is 10-9 with a 4.44 ERA in 23 starts this season, has pitched well at home this season, going 7-3 in 11 trips to the Turner Field mound. He is 6-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 career starts against San Francisco and defeated the Giants back on April 10 this season at AT&T Park, where he fired six innings of one-run ball in his team's 7-2 victory.
San Francisco is still fighting for the top spot in the NL West, but Saturday's loss certainly spoiled any chances of pulling even with San Diego atop the division. The Padres also lost yesterday to maintain a one-game edge over the wild card-leading Giants, who have dropped three of four contests.
The Giants are 1 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia and St. Louis in the NL Wild Card standings.
Matt Cain started for San Francisco last night and was dealt the loss for surrendering all three runs and six hits in five innings. Pat Burrell had the only extra-base hit with a double in defeat.
"I made a couple bad pitches. I left that pitch a little over the plate to (Jason) Heyward and Chipper (Jones) did a good job of fighting the ball off inside. It came down to one pitch at the end and I made the pitch I wanted to and he (Glaus) beat me with a ground ball up the middle," said Cain.
Jonathan Sanchez will try to build off a solid outing when he takes the ball Sunday for the visitors. Sanchez threw six shutout innings and scattered three hits with nine strikeouts in Tuesday's 10-0 destruction of Colorado.
Sanchez, a left-hander, evened his road mark at 3-3 in 11 tries and is 8-6 overall in 23 games (22 starts) in 2010. He faced Atlanta in a 5-4 win on April 9 this season and was reached for three runs over 4 1/3 innings for the no-decision. Sanchez is 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in six career games, four of which have been starts, against the Braves.
The Giants took two of three at home from the Braves in April and have won nine of the last 15 meetings, though they did lose three of four at Turner Field a season ago.