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10/09/10 12:39 AM ET

Braves look to build on stirring rally vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants seemed to have control of the National League Division Series against the Braves on Friday night, holding a 4-1 lead going into the eighth inning of Game 2 at AT&T Park.

But now the best-of-five series is wide open. The Braves came roaring back to win, 5-4, on Rick Ankiel's 11th-inning homer into McCovey Cove, tying the NLDS at a game apiece.

Games 3 and 4 are at Turner Field in Atlanta on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET and Monday at 8:30 p.m., both on TBS. Game 5, if necessary, would be played back in San Francisco on Wednesday night.

"You can never figure out baseball for sure," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "But I was telling our guys before the game: 'Win this one and the momentum swings the other way.'"

Cox will toss right-hander Tim Hudson on Sunday against San Francisco southpaw Jonathan Sanchez. And now that Game 4 is set in stone, the managers for both clubs have to determine starting pitchers.

Cox said he'll probably return with Game 1 starter Derek Lowe on three days' rest, while Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't determined who will make what will certainly be a critical start. His choices are Game 1 winner Tim Lincecum, also on three days' rest, or rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

Lincecum defeated Lowe and the Braves, 1-0, on Thursday by tossing a two-hit shutout in which he struck out 14 batters.

"I'm leaning right now toward Derek," Cox said. "He only threw [96] pitches, he's been politicking since before this series started and he's good on three [days' rest]. He didn't throw a lot of pitches, he didn't labor. And right now, I would lean toward him. That's subject to change, but I don't know what [would cause that]."

The Braves will not have the services of closer Billy Wagner, who injured his right oblique in Game 2.

Bochy said the focus for his club is now on Game 3.

"We go to Atlanta, and we know we're facing a good pitcher in Hudson," Bochy said. "They have a good staff there, and we're going to do all we can to win Game 3. That's where our concentration is now. As far as the other games, we'll worry about that after Game 3."

If a decision has been made about a Game 4 starter, Bochy is holding it close to the vest, though it may depend on the result of Game 3.

"We travel tomorrow," he said. "We'll talk about it and decide what we're going to do."

Game 3 should be the pivotal game of the series. Teams taking a 2-1 lead in NLDS play have won the series 15 of 16 times since the Wild Card and three-tiered playoff format were adopted in 1995. The only team to rebound from a 2-1 deficit and win the series was the 2002 Giants. They lost Game 3 at home, but won Game 4 to force a fifth game back in Atlanta, where they beat the Braves, 3-1, to take the series.

Those Giants ultimately lost the World Series to the Angels in seven games.

Only five outs away from taking a commanding 2-0 lead in their current series against the Braves on Friday night, these Giants can't take too much solace in the past.

"Obviously, we're upset right now about the game," said Giants starter Matt Cain, who pitched 6 2/3 innings of seven-hit ball without allowing an earned run. "But we'll put that past us tonight, go on the plane tomorrow to Atlanta. We've got to go get our work done down there."

Both teams have played through tons of adversity this season and didn't secure playoff berths until this past Sunday's final day, when the Giants defeated the Padres, 3-0, to win the NL West and the Braves nipped the Phillies, 8-7, to capture their first Wild Card berth.

Both teams bounced back after having lost on Friday and Saturday. Now the Giants must bounce back once again.

"You have to, because it's part of the game," Bochy said. "[The Braves] came back on us tonight. That's a tough loss, no getting around it, but you have to bounce back. They fought hard. Their 'pen shut us down for the final nine innings [without a run].

"But we travel to Atlanta now. We've got to bounce back and win a couple games."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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