ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia native Buster Posey finally had a homecoming to remember.
Posey drove in five runs with three hits, Barry Zito combined with two relievers on a five-hitter and the San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves 9-0 on Tuesday night.
Posey, from Leesburg in southwestern Georgia, had been only 1 for 11 at Turner Field before his big night. He said his parents and grandparents were in the crowd.
“I think I was a little more relaxed, for sure,” Posey said, comparing the game to his earlier visits to Atlanta. “I don’t get the chance to play before people I grew up with very often.”
Posey had run-scoring singles in the first and third innings. His third hit was a three-run double off Luis Avilan after Jair Jurrjens (3-3) departed in the fourth.
“Growing up here in Georgia, I’m sure he had a lot of family and friends here, and he had a good game for them,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “I noticed his numbers here haven’t been too good.”
Bochy made a pregame request for better pitching away from home with his staff’s road ERA sitting at 4.85 – third-worst in the majors. Zito (8-6), who came in with a 5.19 road ERA, answered Bochy’s call by allowing only three hits and one walk with four strikeouts in seven innings.
Zito improved to 4-0 in five career starts at Turner Field.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot to it,” Zito said when asked about his success in Atlanta. “It’s a fun place to pitch.”
The first-place Giants, who have won four straight, began the night two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The Braves’ only hits off Zito were a single by Martin Prado to lead off the fourth, an infield hit by Brian McCann to open the fifth and Freddie Freeman’s double with two outs in the seventh. Zito ended the seventh on McCann’s groundout to second base.
George Kontos took over for Zito to start the eighth and gave up a one-out double to Paul Janish. Clay Hensley allowed a single to Tyler Pastornicky in the ninth for Atlanta’s fifth hit. Hensley hit Freeman with a pitch before ending the game on McCann’s flyball to centerfield.
Jurrjens gave up eight runs on eight hits and three walks in 3 1-3 innings as the Braves’ seven-game winning streak ended with a thud. Jurrjens had been 3-0 in four starts since his recall from Triple-A Gwinnett on June 22.
“It was a tough one,” Jurrjens said, adding he didn’t have good command of his pitches. The Braves were not charged with an error but also were hurt by some sloppy fielding, including when Jurrjens missed the bag after taking a throw from Freeman on Angel Pagan’s infield hit to start the fourth inning.
“We just didn’t get it done like a team,” Jurrjens said. “I didn’t make pitches, we didn’t hit, we didn’t field. That’s a team loss.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called it “probably one of the ugliest games we’ve played in a while.”
The Giants sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth. Zito slapped a run-scoring single under third baseman Chipper Jones’ glove. Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera also drove in runs with singles in the big inning.
San Francisco catcher Hector Sanchez left the game in the fourth with a sprained left knee. Sanchez singled and then took off for second base as Zito attempted a bunt. Zito missed the ball and Sanchez appeared to hurt himself when he stopped running. He was limping as he left the field.
Bochy said Sanchez will have an MRI on Wednesday.
“We’re hoping for the best,” Bochy said. “We’re thinking it’s a couple days.”
Sanchez started with Posey playing first base. Brandon Belt ran for Sanchez and remained in the game at first as Posey moved behind the plate. The Giants say Sanchez is day to day.