SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Madison 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 left-handed Bumgarner baffled the Braves, getting them to chase his fastball up in the zone and bite on curveballs in the dirt. Bumgarner (4-1) gave up just four hits and walked two, snapping a string of four starts without a victory.
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 Sunday’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.
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 Blanco to hit for Francisco Peguero, and Blanco delivered a three-run double to right-center that extended the Giants’ lead to 6-1.
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.
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.
NOTES: Giants reliever Santiago Casilla was scheduled to run during batting practice to test his sore right knee, but Bochy wasn’t planning on having Casilla available until Tuesday’s road trip opener at Toronto. … Tim Lincecum, who starts Sunday for San Francisco, has lost his last four starts against Atlanta. Kris Medlen will take the ball for the Braves, looking to snap a five-start winless streak. … Scutaro has an 11-game hitting streak. … Johnson is 0 for 17 with eight strikeouts this month.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)