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SF@LAD: Lincecum strikes out four over 5 2/3 innings

After snapping the Giants' five-game winning streak with a 7-3 victory Saturday, the Braves will go into the series finale hoping to salvage a split on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

The game will feature a matchup of the Braves' Tim Hudson and the Giants' Tim Lincecum as both teams fight for playoff positioning entering the stretch run. The Giants are the leaders in the National League West, while the Braves hold one of the two NL Wild Card spots.

In his last start, Hudson gave up four runs, all in the first inning, in the Braves' 5-4 loss Monday vs. the Nationals. First innings have been problematic for him all season. Of the 59 runs he's allowed in 134 innings this season, 20 have come in the first.

"It's a combination of me not making some pitches and then a little bit of luck on their end," Hudson said. "It's a situation that I'm just not quite making good enough pitches in those situations."

Lincecum, meanwhile, has had struggles of his own this season. Despite his strikeout and walk numbers not slipping this year, Lincecum is 7-13 with a 5.30 ERA. The two-time Cy Young winner is one loss away from equaling his career high and his ERA is nearly two runs higher than his career worst.

But Lincecum pitched well in his last start, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings Monday against the Dodgers. He is 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA since the All-Star break and said he wants to move on from his forgettable first half.

"In the bigger scheme of things, I'm just trying to erase whatever I did in the first half and try to have a better second half," Lincecum said. "You can't change anything that happened. You just worry about making better pitches now."

If Lincecum can once again provide a good start, it could propel the Giants to just their second home series win in five attempts.

Braves: Batista joins bullpen
The Braves promoted right-hander Miguel Batista from Triple-A Gwinnett before Saturday's game against the Giants. Batista replaced Ben Sheets, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

Batista was signed to a Minor League contract by the Braves in July. The 41-year-old was cut by the Mets last month after going 1-3 with a 4.82 ERA in 30 games this season. Batista appeared as a starter and reliever for the Mets this season, but will pitch out of the bullpen for the Braves.

At the time of his signing, manager Fredi Gonzalez said Batista added depth to the Atlanta pitching staff.

"That's a good, experienced arm that doesn't really cost you anything," Gonzalez said.

Giants: Bochy committed to closer committee
Since right-hander Brian Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery early this season, the Giants have struggled to find a replacement for their closer. Manager Bruce Bochy has taken to using a committee of Sergio Romo, Jeremy Afeldt and Javier Lopez after Santiago Casilla began to struggle in the second half.

While Lopez has earned three saves this week, Bochy said he still doesn't have a defined closer and doesn't expect to for the rest of the season.

"Ideally, you have one guy, but I think that they enjoy knowing that really any of them can be out there in the eighth or ninth," Bochy said. "It keeps them on their toes a little bit."

Worth noting
• Sunday will be Braves third baseman Chipper Jones' last regular-season game against the Giants. In 116 games against the Giants in his 19-year career, Jones has a .290 batting average with 23 home runs.

• Lincecum pitched what might be the best game of his career against the Braves in the 2010 NL Division Series, striking out 14 batters in nine shutout innings. But Braves catcher Brian McCann has a history of success against the right-hander. McCann is 10-for-30 with five doubles and a home run against Lincecum.

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