SAN FRANCISCO -- Chris Heston recovered from a two-game slump by pitching 7 1/3 smooth innings and Brandon Belt homered to ignite a late scoring binge for the Giants, who continued their month-long surge with a 7-0 win over the Braves on Thursday night at AT&T Park.
Heston (5-3) allowed 11 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings spanning his previous pair of starts, but he permitted just four hits while allowing one Braves runner to move into scoring position. The rookie right-hander thus helped the Giants win their fifth consecutive home game, secure their 12th victory in 14 games overall and improve to 20-7 in May.
"Any time someone else is out there throwing zeros, you want to go out and match him," Heston said, referring to the scoreless duel he and Atlanta starter Shelby Miller waged for six innings.
Belt broke the tie by poking an opposite-field drive to left off Miller (5-2) with one out in the seventh. The Giants sealed matters with a six-run outburst in the eighth inning, fueled mostly by Joe Panik's two-run double and Hunter Pence's two-run triple.
"It was a bad pitch," Miller said of the fastball he threw to Belt. "It was a four-seamer right down the middle. If I could take it back, I would. It's a tough hit to give up at that point in the ballgame. It kind of gave them some momentum."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Heston holds 'em: Heston weathered a sixth-inning Braves scoring threat en route to winning his third consecutive decision. Singles by Jace Peterson and Freddie Freeman gave Atlanta runners at the corners with two out before Heston retired Nick Markakis on a grounder to second base. More >
One pitch: The 96-mph fastball Belt drilled for an opposite-field home run produced an unfitting conclusion to an impressive month for Miller, who posted a 1.20 ERA and limited opponents to a .167 batting average in five May starts. The Braves right-hander surrendered just one hit through the first five innings and escaped unscathed after the Giants put runners at the corners with one out in the sixth. More >
Quiet offense: This was another frustrating night for the Braves, who have scored three runs or fewer in nine of their past 10 games. Manager Fredi Gonzalez opted not to keep Miller in the game to bunt after Andrelton Simmons began the eighth with a single. Instead, Pedro Ciriaco entered as a pinch-hitter and nearly grounded into a double play. The Giants preserved their one-run lead when Sergio Romo stranded Ciriaco at second base with Cameron Maybin's groundout. More >
"It was just one of those games. You're not going to win a lot of games scoring zero runs." -- Catcher A.J. Pierzynski after the Braves suffered their fourth shutout loss of the season and second in three days
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pence's two-run triple in the eighth stands as the only hit right-handed batters have recorded in 46 at-bats this season against Brandon Cunniff. The Braves rookie reliever had surrendered just three runs through the first 15 innings of his career before the Giants tagged him for five earned runs in just one-third of an inning. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound when the series resumes on Friday at 10:15 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz limited the Brewers to one run and three hits in 7 2/3 innings on Sunday.
Giants: Right-hander Tim Hudson will get the ball on Friday at 7:15 p.m. PT for the Giants' fourth "Orange Friday" game this season, which typically means a festive atmosphere at AT&T Park. They've won the last two, defeating the Angels and Marlins, after enduring a one-sided loss to the D-backs.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.