Braves-Giants Preview - NBC Sports

Braves-Giants Preview
May 28, 2015, 2:35 am

The San Francisco Giants return to AT&T Park, where their pitching staff appears more comfortable after surviving some rough efforts on the mound during an ultimately successful road trip.

Shelby Miller continues to pitch well no matter his surroundings.

The Giants seek a fifth consecutive home victory in the opener of a four-game series against Miller's Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

San Francisco starters finished with a 6.10 ERA on a seven-game trip, a mark that looks much better after Ryan Vogelsong allowed one run over six innings of Wednesday's 3-1 win to cap a sweep of Milwaukee.

The Giants (28-20) went 5-2 on the trip largely due to a .299 average and 25 extra-base hits. Joe Panik hit a two-run homer Wednesday and Nori Aoki had two hits to finish 11 for 17 over the final four games.

Thursday begins a seven-game stretch at home, where the Giants have won 13 of their last 16.

"This is one of the toughest road trips I've been on," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think we were only able to get on the field (for batting practice) twice, but these guys never complained and they came out ready to go every day."

San Francisco's staff ranks 26th in the majors with a 4.60 ERA on the road, but its 2.73 mark at home is the second-best in baseball.

It hasn't seemed to matter where Miller (5-1, 1.50 ERA) pitches. The right-hander lost a no-hitter with one out in the ninth and finished with a two-hit shutout at Miami on May 17, then gave up two runs in six innings of Atlanta's 3-2, 11-inning win over Milwaukee on Saturday.

Miller, who allowed a first-inning run for the first time this season against the Brewers, is 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA and two shutouts in four May outings while holding opponents to a .144 average.

The Braves (23-23) have won eight of Miller's nine starts, and in that defeat he allowed only two earned runs to Cincinnati on April 30.

"It's always a grind," Miller said. "I just try to go out there every inning and battle and put up zeros."

Miller has a 1.46 ERA while winning both of his regular-season starts against the Giants, but they roughed him up for three runs and six hits in just 3 2-3 innings in Game 4 of last year's NL championship series as San Francisco beat St. Louis 6-4.

Hunter Pence is 4 for 9 with a homer off Miller, who opposes Chris Heston as the Giants' starter looks to snap out of his funk.

Heston (4-3, 4.33) went 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA over his first three starts, but he has a 6.48 ERA since while allowing at least five runs in four of six inconsistent outings.

The right-hander struck out a career-high 10 and allowed two hits in a complete-game 8-1 win at Houston on May 12, then gave up five runs in just two innings of the Giants' 9-8 loss at Cincinnati on May 17.

Heston struggled again while allowing six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-8 win at Colorado on Saturday, but should be happy to return to San Francisco, where he's posted a 2.77 ERA in four starts.

He'll be making his first career appearance against the Braves, who salvaged the finale of a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers with Wednesday's 3-2 victory.

Cameron Maybin homered and is hitting .351 over his last 11.

"It's a huge win," Maybin said. "... To leave here getting a win, we got to be excited about it. It was a good team win and it was a good way to finish up."

Atlanta has lost nine of the last 12 meetings.

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