ATLANTA -- The Giants not only made some impressive history at Turner Field this weekend but also made quite a lot of it.
Start with shortstop Brandon Crawford, who joined the club's astounding power brigade by belting two home runs in a game for the first time in his career to lead a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
The victory itself, a virtual carbon copy of the first two wins in this series won by scores of 2-1 and 3-1, gave the Giants their first-ever three-game sweep at Turner Field since the park opened in 1997. It was also their first sweep in Atlanta since June 27-29, 1988, when they banged out 49 hits and scored 30 runs.
This sweep was a quite different wielding of the brooms. In perhaps the most intriguing bit of history, the Giants swept a series without an RBI hit with a runner in scoring position. That hasn't happened in Major League Baseball since at least 1974, and the Elias Sports Bureau was still researching the last time it did happen.
How did the Giants do this? Superb starting pitching, shutdown relief pitching and plenty of power -- seven home runs over three days to run the club's season total to 41 in just 31 games. Over a longer stretch, the 20-11 Giants have won nine of 10 games using the same basic dynamic.
In short, the various components of this team are complementing each other extraordinarily well right now. Starter and winning pitcher Madison Bumgarner said the starters feel good knowing they can get offensive support with one swing of the bat, as well as feel confident they can turn over a game to a bullpen that has limited the opposition to an .085 batting average (7 for 82) over the last nine games.
"It's just nice to know that your lineup's dangerous," said Bumgarner (3-3), who allowed just three hits, a walk and an unearned run over six innings while striking out nine. "It puts a lot of pressure on the other pitcher and the opposing team."
As for the bullpen, which allowed just three hits and four walks over nine shutout innings in this series, Bumgarner said that kind of dominance gives the starters confidence, too. Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Bumgarner all turned six-inning, one-run performances over to the relief corps, and all earned wins as a result.
Sunday, the Giants didn't even need closer Sergio Romo, as Juan Gutierrez, Javier Lopez, Jean Machi and Santiago Casilla combined to shut down the Braves on a hit and a walk over the final three innings, and Casilla earned his first save with a scoreless ninth.
"You feel good handing the ball over to them, but especially right now," Bumgarner said. "They've been pretty much unhittable. So if you have to give it to them a little bit early, you're not so upset about it."
Crawford's two bombs put icing on the developments of this somewhat unlikely series result. He came into the game with just one homer -- a walk-off against Colorado at AT&T Park on April 13 -- and took some gentle ribbing that something hadn't rubbed off despite having a locker between Michael Morse and Buster Posey.
After the Braves scored their only run in the third inning on a Jason Heyward sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1, Crawford belted a 1-2 pitch off Atlanta starter Alex Wood (2-5) over the right-center field fence to give the Giants the lead right back with two out in the top of the fourth.
In the eighth, after the Giants had botched promising rallies in the fifth and seventh, he followed a one-out walk to Brandon Hicks by launching 2-1 pitch over the fence in right against Braves reliever Jordan Walden. It was a noteworthy blast in that it was the Giants' first multirun homer after 10 straight solo shots.
Despite the power display, Crawford doesn't think he'll be getting too involved in the Giants' competitive home run derby that's shaping up between Brandon Belt, Posey and Morse.
"Nah, I'm too far behind," he said with a smile. "Two a game, though, I guess I could catch up."
Up to Sunday, Crawford had had far more impact on the series with his sensational glove work.
"Last year early, he did hit some homers, and he's capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We don't want him trying to hit home runs, and he wasn't trying today. He just got a couple pitches he could handle. What a series he had. It's hard to have a better series than he did here."
The Giants, who are 15-1 when they score first this year, got off fast again with an unusual run in the first. With Hunter Pence on third after a double and a wild pitch, Posey hit a grounder to first in which catcher's interference was ruled. Bochy had a choice between having runners at first and third or taking the Pence run but conceding the Posey out, and he chose the latter.
"Runs are hard to come by against this Atlanta staff, and I didn't want to give up that run," he said.
Follow Carl Steward on Twitter at twitter.com/stewardsfolly.
Giants (Yusmeiro Petit 2-1) at Pittsburgh (Jeff Locke 0-0), 4:05 p.m. CSNBA
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