Power-infused Braves look for series win over Giants




Austin Riley appears to be skipping the learning curve that often comes with a rookie's first taste of major league pitching.

The 22-year-old phenom, who has four homers in his first eight games, will look to inflict more damage when the Atlanta Braves close a four-game series against the host San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon.

Riley slugged a three-run homer Wednesday in the Braves' 9-2 win over the Giants. He is batting .367 with nine RBIs in just 30 at-bats.

"My swing feels really good right now," Riley said in a postgame television interview with Fox Sports Southeast. "The home runs have surprised me. What I'm here for is to drive in runs. I didn't think it was going to come this quick. Just going to keep at it, and hopefully it continues."

Riley has been a key reason why Atlanta has won nine of its past 12 games.

He played his natural position of third base on Wednesday with Josh Donaldson being rested and made a diving stop on a grounder to his left. Riley has seen most of his action in left field while impressing teammates with his demeanor and his bat.

"What he's done in his (eight) games has been pretty amazing if you think about it," first baseman Freddie Freeman told reporters after Wednesday's game. "He's hitting the ball incredibly hard in big situations and putting games out of reach. ... He's been a complete player."

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (3-4, 4.21 ERA) will try to slow down Riley in the series finale as the Giants look to earn a split of the series.

The San Francisco ace has won two of his past three starts -- he received a no-decision in the other -- but has allowed 11 runs (10 earned) on 21 hits during the stretch.

Bumgarner gave up four runs and five hits over 6 1/3 innings while beating the Arizona Diamondbacks in his last turn on Saturday.

The 29-year-old is a solid 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 12 career starts against the Braves. He last faced them on Aug. 28, 2016, when he gave up three runs and five hits over seven innings while recording the victory.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-3, 4.31) will be on the mound Thursday for Atlanta.

The 28-year-old received a no-decision against the Milwaukee Brewers in his last turn on Saturday when he gave up two runs and six hits over six innings.

Gausman lost his lone career start against the Giants on Aug. 13, 2016, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up two runs and two hits in four innings and struck out nine while walking six.

San Francisco has scored just seven runs while losing two of the series' first three games. The Giants had only six hits on Wednesday, and two of those came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Tyler Austin homered for one of San Francisco's runs and scored the other on Buster Posey's drive off the right field wall. Posey was thrown out by Nick Markakis while trying to stretch it into a double.

Riley wasn't the only Atlanta player hitting baseballs into the seats. Dansby Swanson launched a three-run homer, and Freddie Freeman hit a solo blast. Freeman is 14-for-33 (.424) with five homers and eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.

The Giants sabotaged themselves by allowing six unearned runs in the second inning, with a throwing error by right-hander Jeff Samardzija and a wild pitch on a strikeout setting the Braves up for the blasts by Swanson and Freeman.

"Our defense has been really good all year, but tonight we didn't execute," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "Jeff should have been out of the inning, and the pitches caught up with him."

--Field Level Media

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