The San Francisco Giants are making the most of every opportunity to gain ground in the standings.
The Giants go for their third consecutive victory over the Cincinnati Reds when the teams conclude a four-game set on Sunday.
San Francisco won 4-1 on Saturday, closing within three games of the Reds (67-63), who sit atop the NL wild card standings despite losing two of the first three games on their 11-game road trip.
The Giants (64-66) have won 10 of 13 and are right in the thick of the race for the NL West title, just 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
Shea Hillenbrand hit his 100th career homer, a two-run shot in the seventh, to provide insurance runs for the Giants, who are 6-3 on their homestand, which concludes with this contest.
“I see the guys understanding that we don’t have time or room to make mistakes,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “We can’t afford to beat ourselves. They know that. The time left is not that big. The shot is legitimate.”
“This team never gives up, never quits,” Lowry said. “Hopefully we can string a couple of wins together. It’s crunch time.”
The Reds fell two games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, but continue to lead the wild card standings. Cincinnati has a one-half game lead over San Diego and is 1 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “We just have to come out of it, and we will.”
Kyle Lohse (1-0, 1.65 ERA) will try to salvage a split for Cincinnati and continue his superb pitching since being acquired from Minnesota on July 31.
The right-hander fared well in his first four starts with his new team but finally earned his first victory on Tuesday against Houston, allowing just four hits in eight scoreless innings of a 14-0 win.
It was Lohse’s first victory since May 10. He’s allowed two runs or less in all five of his starts with the Reds.
“Everything’s looking up, looking good. I like it here,” said Lohse, who is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in two career starts against San Francisco.
Matt Cain (9-9, 4.53) looks to continue his run of good outings when he starts for the Giants.
Cain beat San Diego on Aug. 17, allowing one hit in 5 1-3 innings, then allowed seven hits and one run in seven innings against Arizona on Tuesday, but didn’t earn a decision in San Francisco’s 7-6 win.
Cain threw 104 pitches in his win over the Padres and worked on being more efficient against the Diamondbacks.
“I didn’t want to give them any confidence swinging, having to go through the same thing that went on in San Diego,” he said. “It’s damage control— that’s the big thing.”
This is his first career start against Cincinnati.