Braves now 7.5 ahead of Philly after sweeping Giants
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and the Atlanta Braves moved closer to clinching the NL East with a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
The Giants lost their 11th straight, the worst skid since the team moved to San Francisco and the longest for the franchise since 1951.
The Braves reduced their magic number for winning the division to 11 with their fifth straight win, matching their best streak of the season, and clinched their first winning record since their last division crown in 2013. Going into Wednesday, Atlanta led second-place Philadelphia by 6½ games.
Flowers beat out an infield hit that scored Charlie Culberson from third base with two outs in the ninth to put the Giants ahead. A replay review confirmed first base umpire Jeremie Rehak's ruling that Brandon Belt's foot was off the bag when Flowers reached first.
Culberson singled leading off the inning against Will Smith (2-3). He advanced to second on Ender Inciarte's sacrifice bunt and took third on Dansby Swanson's grounder.
Dan Winkler (3-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jonny Venters worked a scoreless ninth for his second save.
Anibal Sanchez worked six strong innings but remains winless in his last seven starts for the Braves. He allowed one run on six hits and five walks.
Derek Holland matched Sanchez, giving up one run in six innings of five-hit ball. He struck out seven and walked one. Over his last six starts, Holland is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 34 innings.
Evan Longoria put the Giants ahead with an RBI single in the third. The Braves drew even in the sixth on Freddie Freeman's run-scoring single.
Asked about his team's potential role as a spoiler, a term he's bristled at in the past, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "I probably prefer 'disrupters.'"
The Giants, who are four years removed from winning their third World Series title in a five-year span, play nine of their 15 remaining games against contending teams.
"It's not a great position to be in, but it is a motivating thing for the players this time of year when they're not in it," Bochy said.
Braves: Culberson was in Wednesday's starting lineup at third base in place of Johan Camargo, who left Tuesday's game with left groin tightness.
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt was back in the lineup a day after being held out with a sore right knee, an injury that may require offseason surgery.
Braves: RHP Kevin Gausman (9-10, 3.89 ERA) will pitch Friday at home against Washington. Gausman is 3-1 with a 4.34 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals.
Giants: RHP Chris Stratton (9-9, 4.99) will pitch Friday's series opener at AT&T Park against the Colorado Rockies. The team's winningest pitcher is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA in four starts since his most recent callup from Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 21.