Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Thursday, July 19, 2012 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA -- Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves' win against San Francisco on Thursday could prove to be their biggest of the season.
Atlanta's manager was obviously pleased the Braves avoided being swept by the Giants, but he was particularly encouraged by the way his team bounced back and regained some momentum after a tough loss.
Freddie Freeman and David Ross hit home runs in Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Giants. The Braves fell apart late in Wednesday night's 9-4 loss in 11 innings to San Francisco, but now head to Washington on a positive note for a four-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals.
"You lose two in a row after winning seven and it feels like you'll never win again," the Braves manager said, referring to the team's season-best winning streak that ended with two losses to the Giants.
"Big win," Gonzalez said. "It really is a big win after losing that game last night in extra innings and not leaving here until almost 2 in the morning. Coming back on short rest is really huge and could be the biggest win for us this year, depending on how that weekend (at Washington) goes."
The Braves began the day second in the NL East, 4 -1/2 games behind the Nationals.
Tim Hudson (8-4) helped an Atlanta bullpen that was drained by Wednesday night's loss. He gave up eight hits and two runs in 7 innings to outpitch Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
Freeman hit his 13th homer in the second. Michael Bourn's run-scoring triple in the third gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead.
Ross pushed the lead to 3-1 with his homer in the fourth. The Braves didn't manage another hit.
"Obviously we made those three hits count," Hudson said.
The Giants were denied their first sweep at Turner Field. They haven't swept a series of at least three games in Atlanta since 1988 at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
The NL West-leading Giants' five-game winning streak ended with their first loss since the All-Star break. They began the day a season-best three games ahead of the second-place Dodgers and settled for winning two of three against the Braves.
"You take it," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "That's what you try to do, take series. It's hard to do.
"Sure, it's a tough loss, with the pitching we had. But you take it."
Bumgarner and Clay Hensley held the Braves to three hits, none after the fourth inning.
The Giants had nine hits but stranded eight baserunners.
"We couldn't get a timely hit," Bochy said. "That was the difference in the game."
Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning for his NL-leading 28th save.
Hudson has pitched at least six innings in 11 of his 15 starts.
"It was a lot of fun catching him," Ross said. "He's our horse and we need him pitching well."
Bumgarner couldn't extend his streak of wins in seven straight decisions. Bumgarner (11-6) gave up only three hits but allowed three runs, two earned, in seven innings. He had eight strikeouts and no walks in his first loss since May 26. He fell to 4-5 away from San Francisco.
"I didn't give up a lot of hits today so I felt good," Bumgarner said. "The homers killed me."
Freeman's 13th homer gave him a 10-game hitting streak.
"Freddie's homer I thought was much bigger than mine," Ross said. "Coming off last night, it was nice to get the momentum back early in the game."
The Braves scored an unearned run off Bumgarner in the third when Paul Janish reached on third baseman Pablo Sandoval's fielding error and scored on Bourn's triple.
Sandoval led off the second with a single and scored on a single by Emmanuel Burris. The Giants didn't score another run until the eighth when Melky Cabrera tripled and scored on Buster Posey's flyball to center, cutting Atlanta's lead to 3-2.
Notes: The Braves are listing Ben Sheets as the starting pitcher in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader at Washington. Randall Delgado will be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to start the second game. ... The Braves open the series against the Nationals tonight when Tommy Hanson faces Stephen Strasburg in a matchup of 10-game winners.