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Maholm struggles as Braves drop second straight to SF

Braves starter Paul Maholm gives up six runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-1 loss to the Giants on Saturday.

Braves starter Paul Maholm gives up six runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-1 loss to the Giants on Saturday.

SAN FRANCISCO — A strikeout pitcher ran into a strikeout team Saturday, and the inevitable happened.

Strikeouts.

Madison Bumgarner limited the Atlanta Braves to four hits over seven innings while striking out a season-best 11 and the San Francisco Giants backed him with more run support than in his previous four starts combined in a 10-1 victory at AT&T Park.

Gregor Blanco drove in a career-high four runs with a double and a triple as the Giants recorded their second consecutive one-sided victory over the National League East leaders after the Braves took the series opener on Thursday.

In recording his first win over the Braves, Bumgarner logged 10 or more strikeouts for the second time this season and 10th time in his career, while at the same time lowering his earned-run average to 2.18 by allowing only one run.

The left-hander began the day 10th in the National League in ERA.

“They swing a lot. They swing hard,” Bumgarner (4-1) said of the Braves, whose offense leads the league in strikeouts. “You try to keep mixing it up.”

Bumgarner hadn’t won since opening the season with three consecutive victories. That was due in large part to the fact the Giants scored all of four runs in those four starts during the 26 1/3 innings he was on the mound.

“That makes it a lot easier,” Bumgarner said of the run support. He’d gotten nine runs to work with in his season-opening, three-game winning streak. “It takes a lot of the pressure off. You’re not so worried about giving up a big hit.”

Blanco’s hit was the biggest pressure-lifter.

Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, the left-handed hitter greeted Braves right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin with a three-run double to right-center field, capping a four-run uprising that broke open what had been a 2-1 game.

“You get a ground ball there …,” lamented acting Braves manager Carlos Tosca, who was hoping Gearrin could induce an inning-ending double play and keep the game close. “When you bring Cory in the game, you’re looking to get a ground ball. That’s what he does.”

Blanco’s triple sandwiched doubles by Hunter Pence and Guillermo Quiroz in the eighth inning, as the Giants added four insurance runs. Pinch-hitter Brandon Belt capped the inning with a two-run single.

It wasn’t exactly the type of game Blanco, the Giants’ part-time leftfielder, was expecting to have.

“I was just watching the game, enjoying watching Bumgarner pitch,” said Blanco, who hadn’t taken a single swing all day before being called upon by Giants manager Bruce Bochy in the key spot.

“The way Bumgarner was pitching, I wasn’t expecting to play. A double and a triple and four RBIs … I wasn’t expecting that. But that’s baseball.”

Paul Maholm (4-4), who took the loss for the Braves, surrendered a solo home run to Pablo Sandoval in the first inning and RBI doubles to Brandon Crawford in the fourth and Lee County native Buster Posey in the fifth.

Marco Scutaro got the game-changing fifth rolling with his second hit of the game, a one-out sinking liner to right on which the Braves’ Justin Upton failed to make a shoestring catch. The ball rolled for a triple.

Maholm hit Sandoval on the right forearm with the next pitch, setting up Posey’s double that turned Upton all the way around before short-hopping the right-field fence.