Giants Lose Again

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ATLANTA -- Martin Prado may be able to push aside the gloves he uses at first base and third base.

The former utility player is putting a lock on his new job as the Atlanta Braves' starting second baseman.

Prado and the Braves continued their hot July, beating the San Francisco Giants 8-1 on Tuesday night to move two games over .500 for the first time in almost two months.

Prado had three hits and scored three runs, Brian McCann hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs and the Braves (48-46) continued their offensive surge.

The Braves have averaged 7.2 runs in a 5-1 start to their eight-game homestand and are 9-3 in their last 12 games overall.

"We ran into a hot team," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They played well. They pitch and swing the bats."

Prado is hitting .377 in July as the team's No. 2 hitter. The former No. 2 hitter, shortstop Yunel Escobar, has also flourished in the new lineup, hitting .413 in July. Escobar hit sixth Tuesday night.

"Prado, getting him in that No. 2 hole and dropping Escobar down where he can get some RBIs ... has made a world of difference," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Prado made 13 or more starts at first base, second base and third base in his utility role before taking the starting job at second. Kelly Johnson, who started 57 games at second in the first half of the season, was hitting .214 when he went on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right wrist on July 3.

Escobar leads the team with 53 RBIs.

The Giants, who fell out of the NL wild-card lead with Monday night's 11-3 loss to the Braves, have lost five of six.

"We're not happy with these last two games," Bochy said. "We got blown out in both of them. Big innings are killing us."

The Braves' .296 batting average for July entering the game led the majors. Their 12 hits boosted the mark to .300.

Prado began the night tied for the major league lead with 26 hits in July. He had a career-best 10-game hitting streak end Monday night and was the NL player of the week for the week ending July 5. He is hitting .324 for the season.

Prado and Escobar combined for a flashy double play in the first inning on Travis Ishikawa's grounder to Prado. Escobar made an acrobatic throw to first after catching Prado's toss.

"Our defense has been unbelievable," McCann said. "Our middle infielders, it seems like every night they're making a highlight play. It's rubbing off on everybody else."

Prado said Escobar always asks to practice unusual double plays.

"When we take ground balls, Escobar is the only one that wants to practice those kinds of plays," Prado said. "They happen once in a while. We made that play, he said, 'You see? I told you.' We've got a great friendship. I think he's a great player. He motivated me and the guys. He makes us play hard every day."

Prado singled and scored on McCann's double in the first, and added another single in the three-run third. Chipper Jones had a run-scoring double, Garret Anderson had a sacrifice fly and Escobar added an RBI single in the inning.

The Braves added four runs off Ryan Sadowski (2-2) in the fourth. Prado drove in Ryan Church with a single. McCann's three-run homer over the 400-foot sign in center gave Atlanta an 8-0 lead.

Derek Lowe (9-7) allowed seven hits and one run in six innings as the Braves improved to 12-6 in July. Atlanta was last two games over .500 on May 25.

The Giants scored in the fifth when Juan Uribe's single drove in Matt Downs, who led off with a double.

Sadowski, the rookie right-hander recalled from Class A San Jose before the game, gave up eight runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

"My command was bad and my stuff was bad," Sadowski said, adding he didn't blame the poor outing on his long wait since his last major league start on July 8.

"We just ran into a hot offense," Sadowski said. "If you don't make the pitches, they make you pay."

Braves center fielder Nate McLouth left the game after the sixth inning with a mild lower back strain. Cox said he thinks McLouth will play on Wednesday night.

Bochy said shortstop Edgar Renteria will rest a sore elbow for "a couple days."


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