SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants jumped on Atlanta knuckleballer R.A. Dickey immediately, scoring in each of the first three innings and cruising to a 7-1 victory Sunday at AT&T Park.
Brandon Crawford paced San Francisco's offense by driving in three runs, scoring one with a first-inning groundout and sending home a pair with a second-inning single as San Francisco surged to a 7-0 lead. Dickey also issued a season-high five walks; three of those runners scored.
Crawford, who entered the game 0-for-9 against Dickey, downplayed his success.
"It wasn't as if I hit the ball all over the place," he said. "I just tried to see the knuckleball up. That's the hardest part of a knuckleball, that it's dancing all over the place. Fortunately, I think, it was dancing so much that he couldn't find the strike zone."
The Giants were retired 1-2-3 in each of the final five innings.
"When you get six hits," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "it's good to get them in a bunch like we did the first three innings."
That provided more than enough support for Johnny Cueto, who ended a personal three-decision losing streak while allowing six hits and Atlanta's lone run in six innings. For the second start in a row, Cueto struck out eight and walked one.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Dickey battled himself early and credited the right-hander for pushing through six innings to help save Atlanta's bullpen.
"In the beginning it was like there was no in between," Snitker said. "It was either an unbelievable knuckleball or something that was really flat. He found his release point in the middle and did a good job of stretching the game a little bit. That's what we needed, innings."
The Giants secured their seventh victory in their last nine home games and won their third consecutive home series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Knuckling down: A knuckleball's movement is so fickle that even its most elite practitioners often don't know where it's going. The Giants got an indication this would be a rough day for Dickey when catcher Kurt Suzuki mishandled a first-inning knuckler for a passed ball that enabled Eduardo Nunez to score the game's first run. Dickey also flung a second-inning wild pitch that helped the Giants add four runs.
"It wasn't that I didn't have a good knuckleball," Dickey said. "It was moving but I would throw two that would be the most hellacious knuckleballs you've ever seen and then I'd throw a third that would just kind of flatten out with the same release point and get hit. I didn't really have the right formula early on."
Ruiz's rough go: Atlanta's Rio Ruiz entered Sunday batting .346 (9-for-26) in his previous eight games. However, the rookie infielder wasn't able to stay hot. He grounded out in the fourth inning with a pair of runners aboard and struck out in the sixth to strand a runner on third.
"This can be a challenging place because of the wind, it swirls so much. A lot of it's about finding the right speed out of my hand. The last three innings I backed off it a little bit and was getting consistent movement in the strike zone rather than erratic movement outside the strike zone. But I didn't give us a chance." -- Dickey
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Ender Inciarte's double in the fifth inning was his 36th hit this month, the most by a Braves player in May since Freddie Freeman had 36 in 2013. The modern-era franchise record for hits in May is 47 shared by Hank Aaron (1959) and Ralph Garr (1974).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Giants challenged a ninth-inning ruling that declared Ruiz's foot touched second base before Crawford's as San Francisco attempted to turn a double play on Dansby Swanson's grounder. The call was overturned after a video review and Ruiz was called out.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: Right-hander Julio Teheran makes his first career appearance against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday in the opener of a three-game series in Anaheim beginning at 9:07 ET. Teheran has only one win since April 26 but has not allowed an earned run in two of his previous three starts.
Giants: San Francisco will open a three-game series Monday against the Washington Nationals with a Memorial Day matinee at 1:08 p.m. PT. Matt Moore, San Francisco's scheduled starter, has compiled a 2-1 mark with a 2.57 ERA at home, compared with 0-4, 7.80 on the road. Opponents are batting .217 off Moore at AT&T Park and .336 outside of it.