Sidney Ponson was one of baseball’s best-kept secrets in Baltimore.
The right-hander will receive considerably more attention as he makes his San Francisco debut when the Giants continue a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Pacific Bell Park.
Ponson was quietly enjoying the best of his six big league seasons with the Orioles, going 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 21 starts.
With the Orioles mired in fourth place in the AL East, Ponson was dealt to the NL West-leading Giants just prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, bolstering a rotation that already features All-Star Jason Schmidt, veteran left-hander Kirk Reuter and rookie phenom Jerome Williams.
The Giants sent young pitchers Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss and Ryan Hannanan to Baltimore for Ponson, and now hope the hard-throwing native of Aruba can help them go one step further than last year, when they lost the World Series in seven tough games to the Anaheim Angels.
“Sidney was real attractive for us,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. “I think we stated on record all we wanted to do was something definitive, something that would make an impact in a positive way.”
Ponson, a free agent after this season, is also looking forward to pitching the Giants deep into October.
“I’m here, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to going to the playoffs for the first time in my career,” Ponson said. “Coming from a last-place team to a first-place team is always good. There’s guys in the clubhouse welcoming me that have been here a long time. I know a lot of guys here, so I feel really comfortable.”
Ponson watched Schmidt win his fourth straight start with seven innings of four-hit ball in San Francisco’s series-opening 3-0 triumph Tuesday. Jose Cruz Jr. had a two-run single for the Giants, who have won 13 of their last 14 at Pac Bell.
The Pirates had won four of six away from PNC Park prior to dropping the opener of their six-game trip. The loss dropped Pittsburgh below .500 on the road.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 4th place, 8 GB, NL Central. Giants - 1st place, NL West.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Josh Fogg (6-6, 5.42 ERA). Fogg has not pitched well in his last two starts, surrendering 11 runs and 16 hits over eight innings. The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits over four innings in Thursday’s 10-7 loss to San Diego. Fogg yielded four runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings in his only previous start against the Giants in 2002.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Ponson (14-6, 3.77 ERA with Baltimore). Ponson is making his first career appearance against the Pirates. He was 6-3 with a 4.01 ERA in nine home starts this season at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Brian Giles, .302 avg. and 62 RBIs; Reggie Sanders, 21 HRs and 8 SBs; Jason Kendall, 62 runs. Giants - Barry Bonds, .330 avg., 34 HRs, 71 RBIs and 81 runs; Marquis Grissom, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Giants, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - RHP Fogg is 3-3 with a 6.15 ERA in eight road starts this year. … Pittsburgh recalled RHP Ryan Vogelsong from Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday and optioned OF Adam Hyzdu back to Nashville. Vogelsong is a former Giants prospect traded to the Pirates two years ago in the deal for RHP Schmidt. … The Pirates have been shut out seven times this year. San Francisco got its eighth shutout, while Pittsburgh was Giants - RHP Tim Worrell has converted 24 of 28 save opportunities this season. … OF Bonds has reached base in 30 straight games. … San Francisco has posted eight shutouts this year.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 26-27 on the road; Giants - 38-16 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL. Giants - C Alberto Castillo (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Kirk Rueter (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Chad Zerbe (oblique), 15-day DL.