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Braves-Giants preview

SAN FRANCISCO -- Atlanta Braves interim manager Brian Snitker thought young right-hander Mike Foltynewicz won more than just a ballgame Saturday night.

He noted that the 24-year-old should benefit from the conditions under which he excelled at AT&T Park.

Now he's hoping for the same for his young Sunday starter, Aaron Blair.

"This environment is great. What a great place to play," Snitker said after Saturday's 3-1 win. "Any time you experience this atmosphere here, it can do nothing but prepare you to be a major leaguer."

Blair might not have been adequately prepared when he made his major-league debut earlier this season for the Braves.

The 24-year-old failed to win any of his first 11 starts, running up a 0-5 record and a 7.99 ERA.

One of those drubbings occurred at the hands of the Giants on June 2. It was in a matchup with the same guy that Blair will duel Sunday, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

Bumgarner not only shut out the Braves that day in a 6-0 win but contributed one of the Giants' three home runs off Blair, who allowed six runs, five hits and four walks in four innings.

The rookie was sent to Triple-A later that month, and things haven't gone appreciably better there. He was just 2-4 with a 5.98 ERA in nine starts before getting the call to show up in San Francisco on Sunday.

If there's good news for Blair, it's that he'll face a Giants team that's a bit banged up.

Right fielder Hunter Pence has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain. He had an MRI on Saturday and likely won't do anything but possibly pinch hit Sunday.

And Giants first baseman Brandon Belt complained of a sore neck shortly before game time Saturday, which got him scratched from the starting lineup.

The Giants also rested star catcher Buster Posey, which helped Foltynewicz's cause. He responded with 7 2/3 strong innings in the win.

"We were a little short-handed," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said afterward. "Sure, you are going to miss those guys. It unfortunately happens once in a while. And it happened tonight to us."

The loss dropped the Giants two games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West at a time when the schedule indicates San Francisco should be making up ground.

But while the Dodgers were beating the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs on Saturday, the Giants were losing for a third time this season to the last-place Braves.

A former Dodger contributed big-time to the Giants' demise Saturday night.

Former longtime Dodgers and San Diego Padres outfielder Matt Kemp belted the eighth career home run at AT&T Park, a three-run shot that provided all the Braves' scoring in their win.

"It's fun to play here," Kemp said. "It's always good to beat this team, quiet the crowd down. They get riled up when they get up."

Kemp will be matched up Sunday with Bumgarner, against whom he has gone just 11-for-57 (.193) in his career but with two homers.