SAN FRANCISCO – If the World Series champions needed a reminder that a repeat performance won’t be easy, the Atlanta Braves gave it to them this weekend.
Ace Tim Lincecum struggled. Postseason star Madison Bumgarner took a loss. Then closer Brian Wilson and his bushy, black beard came in for the finale trying to salvage at least one victory.
Not this time.
Nate McLouth hit a two-run single off Wilson with two outs in the 10th inning, and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 on Sunday for a three-game sweep in a rematch of last season’s N.L. division series.
“We came home, we were playing good. We thought we’d be taking series and then come home and get swept,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s hard to explain. We’ll try to find it and get it back on the road.”
The Giants start a 10-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and would rather leave memories of their weekend at home behind.
“We just went through a rough stretch with throwing strikes,” Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. “I cost us three runs today because I walked two guys myself.
“Atlanta had a pretty patient approach. They’re one of the more patient teams we’ve seen this year. They were tracking balls pretty good and they took some pretty good pitches, too.
“So credit their hitters for that. But we need to do a better job of not issuing free passes because that’s going to hurt us.”
“We know we’re not playing Giants baseball right now,” said Wilson, who led the majors with 48 saves last season. “We’re scuffling a little bit, but we’re still right in the thick of things. (Our record) is not horrible considering the kind of games we have lost. We just need to get on a good roll and start remembering how to play good baseball.”