ATLANTA (AP) – Mired in an awful season, the San Francisco Giants desperately needed a break.
The Atlanta Braves provided one.
After Dansby Swanson botched a potential double play, rookie Austin Slater hit a three-run homer that sparked the Giants to a 6-3 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night and snapped a seven-game losing streak.
“I knew I hit it good,” Slater said. “I didn’t know if I hit it high enough. I’m glad it got out.”
His second big league homer broke a stretch of 16 scoreless innings for the Giants, who were routed 9-0 in the series opener.
“The kid bailed us out,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Matt Moore (3-7) pitched seven strong innings for his first win in over a month, and the shaky Giants bullpen protected the lead.
Julio Teheran (6-5) was up 2-0 and cruising toward his first home win since opening night at SunTrust Park, only to be let down by his defense in the eighth inning. The Braves were charged with three errors in all, but Swanson’s miscue was the big one.
On the very next pitch, Slater lined one into the right-field seats for his second homer of the season. The Giants went on to score five runs in the inning, also taking advantage of throwing errors by reliever Ian Krol and first baseman Matt Adams.
Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his 11th save in 15 chances.
The Braves jumped ahead in the third. Johan Camargo lined one over the head of center fielder Denard Span for a run-scoring triple and came home on a sacrifice fly by Ender Inciarte.
It looked like the lead would stand up until the Atlanta defense fell apart.
Hunter Pence reached on a grounder to third base that was generously ruled a hit after Camargo dropped the ball trying to make the throw. Brandon Belt followed with a sharp grounder to second baseman Brandon Phillips, who picked it off and threw to Swanson for what should have been a force out at the very least.
Swanson was looking to get two – only he bobbled the ball away trying to rush his relay throw. Umpire Quinn Wolcott initially ruled Pence was out, but the call was overturned when the review showed the rookie shortstop never had control of the ball.
Slater’s homer put the Giants ahead for the first time all night, and they tacked on two insurance runs while getting only one ball out of the infield.
“It was a weird inning,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We didn’t make enough plays in that inning. It’s hard when you give a major league team extra outs.”
Josh Osich and Sam Dyson worked out of trouble in the bottom half, Belt homered in the ninth to pad the lead and Melancon closed it out.
San Francisco (27-46) not only snapped its season-long losing streak, the Giants also avoided matching the franchise’s worst 73-game record in more than a century.
The 1985 Giants had just 26 wins in their first 73 games. That team went on to finish last in the NL West with a 62-100 mark.
One must go back a lot further to find an even worse start. In 1902 – 56 years before the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco – the Giants were 22-48 after 73 games, not counting a tie and two no-decisions.
Giants 3B Eduardo Nunez continues to be bothered by an ailing hamstring, forcing him to sit out the game and undergo a precautionary MRI to ensure there’s not a more serious problem.
Nunez missed three games last weekend before returning to the lineup for the series opener in Atlanta. He was able to play the entire game, but apparently tweaked the hamstring running out an infield single in the first inning.
When Nunez reported tightness Tuesday morning, the Giants decided to hold him out of the game. Bochy hopes he’ll be able to return to the lineup in a day or two.
Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (2-9, 4.81) will try to avoid becoming the first pitcher in the majors with double-figure losses this season. He is tied for the most losses with Boston’s Rick Porcello.
Braves: After initially planning to bring Bartolo Colon off the 10-day DL, Atlanta announced that a stiff back would keep the 44-year-old out of action a bit longer. Rookie LHP Sean Newcomb (0-2, 2.19) will move up to take his regular turn in the rotation.
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