Bonds homerless as Giants win finale
San Francisco rallies past Atlanta in fifth on pair of clutch hits
SAN FRANCISCO -- The play at the plate wasn't even close. Braves catcher Brian McCann was crouched and waiting for Dave Roberts as he tried to make it home from first on a double in the third inning of the Giants' 4-2 win against the Braves.Roberts wasn't safe, but he didn't regret pushing the envelope, and it was that same determination not to give up that made him the difference-maker later in the game. All four of the Giants' runs were scored with two outs. The two-out rally that Roberts sparked in the fifth ended when Barry Bonds, who went 1-for-4 with a double on the day, flied out with two runners on. Bonds remains at 753 home runs, two shy of tying Hank Aaron's all-time mark.
When the Giants have fallen into a hole this season, they haven't often dug their way out. They are 20-38 when opposing teams score first, so when starting pitcher Tim Lincecum racked up a two-run deficit in the fourth inning, it looked like the ominous start of another loss. Lincecum kept plugging, though, and the Giants followed his lead, charging back to life in the fifth inning.It was a rare come-for-behind victory, and the series split is even more impressive considering the Giants started the series two games down. The Giants took the game from the Braves on the arm of Lincecum and the bat of Roberts. Lincecum wasn't overtly thrilled with his six-inning, two-run performance, but it was enough to get him his fourth win in the last five starts and his 100th career strikeout, which he collected just 91 innings into his career. That makes Lincecum the second-quickest pitcher in San Francisco history to collect 100 strikeouts -- behind only Masanori Murakami, who did it in 88 1/3 innings. Lincecum's five strikeouts that pushed him to 100 on Thursday is a relatively low number for him, but he wasn't thinking about the record. He just trying to get out of the game without getting hit too badly on a day that he wasn't at his best. "I wasn't particularly going for the strikeout as much as I usually was. Today, I didn't care if it was a ground ball or a pop-fly out. It was just 'let's get through this game,'" Lincecum said. But even on his bad days, Lincecum can still stifle a team like the Braves. "I think any time you hold a team to two runs, that's a great job," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Lincecum gave up the two runs in the fourth inning to Jeff Francoeur, who launched a two-run homer to left. The fourth is a rocky inning for Lincecum, who has surrendered 15 of his 42 runs in that inning, but it was the only inning the Braves could scrape any runs. "You're not gonna score too many runs off him. When you throw that hard and consistently get the ball near the plate, you've got a pretty good thing going," said Braves manager Bobby Cox. The Giants weren't scoring many off Braves starter Buddy Carlyle either until Roberts ripped a two-run double in the fifth to spark a three-run rally. Roberts has now hit safely in 16 of his last 20 games, and his elbow surgery seems like a distant memory. Now that Roberts is back at full steam, he's taking a lot of pressure off Randy Winn, the No. 2 hitter, and the rest of the Giants lineup. He went 3-for-5 on Thursday, and connected on all three hits with two outs. "That's what we've been looking for, timely hits. That's what wins ballgames for you, and we got them today," Bochy said. Even after Bonds was taken out of the game in the seventh, the Giants fans remained in their seats. "I know a lot of them are here to see Barry hit a home run, but it was a good ballgame," Bochy said. "The fact that they stayed and watched, I think that's great, because those guys played well today." Fans who stuck around were treated to the first steal of Kevin Frandsen's career in the eighth inning. "I was about ready to pick it up and show everybody," Frandsen joked. The win was enough of a trophy though.
Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.