SAN FRANCISCO -- Sean Newcomb and Ozzie Albies, two names that had been Atlanta afterthoughts too much of the time lately, stepped up for the Braves on Monday, delivering a 4-1 win over the Giants at AT&T Park.Newcomb, whose ERA in his previous five starts was 7.99, allowed San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sean Newcomb and Ozzie Albies, two names that had been Atlanta afterthoughts too much of the time lately, stepped up for the Braves on Monday, delivering a 4-1 win over the Giants at AT&T Park.
Newcomb, whose ERA in his previous five starts was 7.99, allowed San Francisco one run in six innings. Albies, a .283 hitter before the break but lounging at .247 after, ran his way into a tiebreaking run in the seventh, then was the centerpiece of a two-run ninth that put the game away.
Coupled with the Phillies being rained out at home against the Nationals, the Braves now have a season-best five-game lead in the National League East with 18 games to play. This is the first time in a playoff push for both Newcome and Albies, and the Braves' path to the postseason will be all the smoother if the two can replicate Monday's performances.
"Ozzie's one of our key pieces," Newcomb said. "We saw that in the first half. And tonight."
Albies opened the seventh against Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez with what should have been a single up the middle. Albies made a move about one-third of the way toward second base. Gorkys Hernandez could have held him there, but the center fielder launched a throw toward first base.
"When he throws behind me, I'm going," Albies said.
And not just to second base. Hernandez's throw overshot first base entirely, Albies moved to third base with no one out on what was ruled a double and a throwing error. He scored the go-ahead run on Dansby Swanson's fly ball.
In the ninth, Albies tripled to bring in one run, then scored on a Swanson squeeze bunt for the final run of the night as the Braves got their magic number down to 15.
• Albies snares foul that bounces off screen
Newcomb gave up two singles in the third inning. Those, coupled with a Rodriguez bunt, was enough for the Giants to score. But after Austin Slater's single got that run home, Newcomb retired the next 11 men he faced. He could have gone deeper, but manager Brian Snitker wasn't having it.
"The kid is coming off some rough outings," the manager said. "I wanted to give him something positive. With a five-run lead, I let him go. But he did exactly what we needed. It was a solid outing he could feel real good about."
Newcomb (12-8) said he'd been waiting for this game for a while. He wanted to be part of the winning again.
"For a lot of us, this is the first time going through this," Newcomb said. "It's awesome. It's a lot of fun to be part of."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Braves bullpen has been a mess of late, but on Monday, Shane Carle, Jonny Venters and A.J. Minter put together back-to-back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, securing a much-needed win for Newcomb.
Monday was the first time this month that the Braves went without a homer, 14 homers in the previous nine games. It was the first time since Aug. 26 for Atlanta to win without going deep.
The Braves' Tuesday starter, Mike Foltynewicz, loves pitching in AT&T Park, both because of the fans -- "they make for a great atmosphere here," he says -- and because of the atmosphere. After a summer of pitching in heat and humidity, he won't have either in his matchup with the Giants' Andrew Suarez. Game-time temperature for the 10:15 p.m. ET contest is supposed to be in the 60s.
John Hickey is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.