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Giants can't find big hits in 3-2 loss to Braves

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POSTED July 19, 2012 10:32 p.m.

ATLANTA (AP) — The Giants' first loss since the All-Star break provided a reminder their hitters still have room to improve.

San Francisco outhit the Atlanta Braves 9-3 but the Giants were hurt by their failure to deliver in the clutch in Thursday's 3-2 loss.

The loss ended San Francisco's five-game winning streak.

"Really, when you think about it, since we've gotten into the second half we've gotten some wins but we're not clicking offensively," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

"We have to do a better job of getting runners in."

The Giants stranded eight baserunners.

"We couldn't get a timely hit," Bochy said. "That was the difference in the game."

Freddie Freeman and David Ross hit home runs off Madison Bumgarner. Atlanta's only other hit was a run-scoring triple by Michael Bourn.

The Giants were denied their first sweep at Turner Field. They haven't swept a series of at least three games in Atlanta since 1988 at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

The NL West-leading Giants began the day a season-best three games ahead of the second-place Dodgers and settled for winning two of three against the Braves.

"You take it," Bochy said. "That's what you try to do, take series. It's hard to do.

"Sure, it's a tough loss, with the pitching we had. But you take it."

Bumgarner and Clay Hensley held the Braves to three hits, none after the fourth inning.

Bumgarner (11-6) gave up only three hits but allowed three runs, two earned, in seven innings. He had eight strikeouts and no walks in his first loss since May 26. He couldn't extend his streak of wins in seven straight decisions and fell to 4-5 away from San Francisco.

"I didn't give up a lot of hits today so I felt good," Bumgarner said. "The homers killed me."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was encouraged because the Braves bounced back from Wednesday's night's 9-4 loss in 11 innings while also regaining momentum for a four-game series at NL East-leading Washington.

"You lose two in a row after winning seven and it feels like you'll never win again," Gonzalez said, referring to the team's season-best winning streak that ended with two losses to the Giants.

"Big win," Gonzalez said. "It really is a big win after losing that game last night in extra innings and not leaving here until almost 2 in the morning. Coming back on short rest is really huge and could be the biggest win for us this year, depending on how that weekend (at Washington) goes."

The Braves began the day second in the NL East, 4 ½ games behind the Nationals.

Tim Hudson (8-4) helped an Atlanta bullpen that was drained by Wednesday night's loss. He gave up eight hits and two runs in 7 1-3 innings to outpitch Bumgarner.

Freeman hit his 13th homer in the second. Bourn's run-scoring triple in the third gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

Ross pushed the lead to 3-1 with his homer in the fourth. The Braves didn't manage another hit.

"Obviously we made those three hits count," Hudson said.

Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning for his NL-leading 28th save.

Hudson has pitched at least six innings in 11 of his 15 starts.

"It was a lot of fun catching him," Ross said. "He's our horse and we need him pitching well."

Sandoval led off the second with a single and scored on a single by Emmanuel Burris. The Giants didn't score another run until the eighth when Melky Cabrera tripled and scored on Buster Posey's flyball to center, cutting Atlanta's lead to 3-2.

Notes: Giants SS Brandon Crawford, who fouled a ball off his right knee before hitting a go-ahead, three-run homer in the 11th inning on Wednesday night, was 0-for-4. He said the knee is fine. ... The Braves are listing Ben Sheets as the starting pitcher in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader at Washington. Randall Delgado will be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to start the second game. ... The Braves open the series against the Nationals on Friday night when Tommy Hanson faces Stephen Strasburg in a matchup of 10-game winners. ... The Giants open a series at Philadelphia on Friday night with Tim Lincecum, only 3-10, facing Vance Worley.

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