Braves near division crown

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SAN Francisco Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in San Francisco. AP

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — On a day when Anibal Sanchez didn’t have his best command, he found a way to help the Atlanta Braves on their march toward the postseason.

Sanchez kept the Braves close with six strong innings, pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth, and the Braves moved closer to clinching the NL East with a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.

The Giants lost their 11th straight, the worst skid since the team moved to San Francisco and the longest for the franchise since 1951.

The Braves reduced their magic number for winning the division to 11 with their fifth straight win, matching their best streak of the season, and clinched their first winning record since their last division crown in 2013.

Going into Wednesday, Atlanta led second-place Philadelphia by 6½ games.
“We’ve worked hard to get to this point,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

“We’ve grinded through things to get to that position. We can look to bigger things now.”

Sanchez remains winless in his last seven starts. He gave up one run on six hits and five walks. He induced double-play grounders to escape bases-loaded, one-out situations in the first and the fourth.

“I didn’t have the same command I’ve had before,” Sanchez said. “The defense has helped me so much and they got me out of that inning.”

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