McCann leads way as Braves top Giants

Atlanta slugger hits first homer, adds RBI during four-run fifth

McCann leads way as Braves top Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- As his offense showed flashes of its potential through this season's first month, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez repeatedly said his lineup was not clicking on all cylinders. But now that Brian McCann is back and Dan Uggla has broken out of his funk, the pieces are seemingly falling into place.

McCann highlighted a three-hit performance with his first home run of the season and aided the four-run fifth inning that gave Julio Teheran more than enough cushion to help the Braves open a four-game series with Thursday night's 6-3 win over the Giants at AT&T Park.

"That's what Mac does," Gonzalez said of McCann. "A healthy Mac is a guy that can swing the bat. He makes our lineup a lot better."

McCann's two-run home run in the second inning off Ryan Vogelsong got things rolling for the Braves, who have scored at least six runs in five of their past six games. They have won three of the four games played since McCann returned on Monday from offseason shoulder surgery.

"I tested [the shoulder] as much as I could when I was down in Florida," said McCann, who spent the first half of April in extended spring training. "To be where I am at, honestly, if you would have told me this a month ago that I'd be feeling this good, I wouldn't have believed you. This thing went through its ups and downs, and I was able to make some huge gains when I was down in Florida. I'm just excited to be where I am."

Craig Kimbrel was thrilled to have the opportunity to seal this victory with a scoreless ninth inning that provided him the 100th save of his career. The Braves closer, who had blown three of his previous five save opportunities, was making his first appearance since allowing a pair of two-out home runs in the ninth inning of Tuesday's loss to the Reds.

After being limited to two runs through the first four innings, the Braves chased Vogelsong during the decisive fifth that included triples from Jordan Schafer and Justin Upton. Freddie Freeman provided a go-ahead RBI single and later scored from second base when McCann's sharply hit grounder deflected off second baseman Marco Scutaro and went into shallow center field.

McCann's single off left-handed reliever Jose Mijares set the stage for B.J. Upton to drive in his first run since April 23 with a clean single to center.

"That one inning was really the only thing we did against [Vogelsong]," Gonzalez said. "We didn't miss any pitches."

The eventful fifth inning erased the early damage done by Buster Posey, who notched an RBI single in the first and added a two-run home run in the third. Those two hits would account for the only damage incurred by Teheran, who allowed just the three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"You can't hang a slider to Buster Posey," McCann said. "That's what he'll do. [Teheran] knows that. But when you take that whole outing as a whole, he was on his game. He made one mistake to Posey and that was about it. He's going to build off this and get better and better."

Teheran was certainly frustrated after hanging a slider on the ninth pitch of the at-bat that resulted in Posey's home run. But the quickly maturing 22-year-old right-hander maintained his composure and limited the Giants to two more singles through the remainder of his outing. He proved perfect in his final two innings and faced the minimum in his final three innings.

Gonzalez credited Teheran's success to his willingness to throw his changeup, which he had been hesitant to throw in his previous five starts. The young hurler struggled to command the pitch when he changed grips last year. But in this outing, he went back to the grip he had used when his changeup was considered one of his better pitches during his early Minor League days.

"He stayed on the corners pretty well," Posey said. "He wasn't making too many mistakes on the plate."

Coming off Wednesday's two-homer performance in Cincinnati, Uggla drew two walks and provided a fourth-inning single, which accounted for one of the nine hits he has recorded in his past 22 at-bats. The veteran second baseman's batting average has increased from .167 to .214 during this six-game span.

After Uggla walked in the second inning, McCann stepped to the plate and drilled Vogelsong's 1-0 fastball over the tall right-field wall. It was the first home run since Sept. 9 for the five-time Silver Slugger who spent April strengthening his surgically repaired right shoulder in extended Spring Training and Minor League rehab games.

"I'm just glad to be back and be part of the team," McCann said. "That's my job -- to come here and put up good [at-bats] and get hits."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.