In late May, Jonny Cueto stifled the Braves for his best start in what’s been an uneven season as the Giants cruised to a 7-1 win in San Francisco. A few weeks later, R.A. Dickey returned the favor against Cueto, putting up one of his best starts of the season as the Braves dismantled the hapless Giants.
The game started inauspiciously for Dickey, as he gave up an 0-2 single to leadoff man Denard Span, and then an infield single to Eduardo Nunez to put runners at the corners with none away. However, the knuckler then worked its magic: a pop-out, a strikeout of Braves nemesis Buster Posey, and another pop-out kept the game scoreless. Dickey also caught a bit of a break in the second, as Brandon Belt hit a one-out double but then popped off the base when sliding into second, resulting in an out.
After a 1-2-3 third from Dickey, the Braves finally struck against Cueto. Johan Camargo, getting the start at third base, hit a single past Belt at first base. That set up a one-out double into center by Ender Inciarte, and Camargo came around to score all the way from first, aided by Posey being unable to corral the throw from the outfield. (Camargo would have potentially been out had Posey been able to hold on to the ball while completing the tag.) The Braves doubled their lead in the next inning, as Matt Adams connected for another monster home run to right field, smashing a Cueto changeup at the knees into the soggy Atlanta night.
After that, both Cueto and Dickey continued to deal. Dickey did not allow a baserunner in the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth inning. He hit Posey with a knuckler to start the seventh, but Brian Snitker rewarded his efforts by leaving him in the game, and Dickey retired the next three batters in order. His final line: seven innings, three hits, one walk, one HBP, and six strikeouts. The outing was one of his best, rivaled only by his seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball with eight strikeouts against the Phillies a couple of starts ago.
Cueto, for what it was worth, also finished with a solid line: seven innings, five hits, two runs (both earned), no walks, a hit by pitch, and four strikeouts. Unfortunately for the Giants, the game unraveled when Cueto exited.
The Giants tabbed Josh Osich to pitch the eighth, and things went very well for the Braves shortly thereafter. Inciarte drew a leadoff walk, followed by Brandon Phillips hitting a grounder that forced Inciarte at second. Phillips moved up on a Nick Markakis groundout, prompting an intentional walk to Matt Kemp. Then, Matt Adams struck again, singling to right to give the Braves a 3-0 lead. Derek Law (not Lowe) then came in to relieve Osich and melted down further, walking Tyler Flowers to load the bases, allowing a sharp single to right field by Dansby Swanson that scored two more runs, then giving up another single to Camargo to make it 6-0. Law then hung a slider to pinch-hitter Danny Santana, which was crushed into the upper “deck” of right field for a three-run homer to cap the scoring. Law would give up a single and a double before giving way to Bryan Morris, who finally retired Nick Markakis (who made two of the inning’s three outs) to close out the eighth. The Braves sent 12 men to the plate and scored seven times in the outburst.
Luke Jackson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, following up on the same from Arodys Vizcaino, who pitched a scoreless eighth. The Braves pounded out 11 hits, with Inciarte collecting three, and Adams, Swanson, and Camargo grabbing a pair each.
The series continues tomorrow, with Matt Moore set to face Julio Teheran.