San Francisco (67-69) at Chicago (55-80)

Light Rain Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Sun Sep 3, 2006
  • TV: FSBA, WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Francisco Giants desperately need wins to keep pace in a tight NL wild-card race.

They’ll rely on right-hander Jason Schmidt, who hasn’t lost to the Chicago Cubs in almost seven years, to get them one Sunday when they close a three-game series at Wrigley Field.

The Giants (67-69) are one of eight NL teams within six games of claiming the wild card. They’re in third place in the NL West with wins in 13 of their last 19 games.

The latest of those victories came Saturday as Barry Bonds hit one of three homers for the Giants, and the 728th of his career, in a 4-2 victory over the Cubs.

“It was nice to win that way,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said after seeing Bonds, Ray Durham and Moises Alou homer. “From the fourth, fifth and sixth hitters to get three jacks.

“All three guys that hit the ball out, those are our long ball guys.”

Schmidt (10-8, 3.37 ERA) hasn’t lost to the Cubs (55-80) since Sept. 24, 1999, going 6-0 with a 2.05 ERA in eight starts since.

He’s 10-5 with a 2.65 career ERA against the Cubs and pitched a complete game in his only start against them this season, allowing five hits in a 6-1 win on May 9. He hasn’t given up more than two runs in a start versus the Cubs since April 2002.

Schmidt, however, has pitched poorly in his last two outings. Six days after allowing six runs and eight hits in six innings of a 7-6 win over Arizona, Schmidt had a three-game win streak snapped in Tuesday’s 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He gave up eight runs—four earned—and seven hits, including two homers, while walking four in 3 1-3 innings for his shortest outing since May 2002.

“He looked like someone throwing just one pitch and he didn’t have command of it,” Alou said. “He didn’t throw many pitches that weren’t fastballs. His fastball was good, but he had no location.”

The 42-year-old Bonds has 20 homers this season, including three in his previous four games, and is 27 shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755. He’s hitting .517 (15-for-29) with four homers and nine walks in his last 10 games, and San Francisco has won seven of them.

“Most guys can hit as long as they don’t get too thick in the midsection,” current Cubs and former Giants manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s where guys lose their quickness, their hip rotation to get to the ball. I’m not surprised Barry’s hitting. Usually that’s the last thing to go.”

Bonds has hit .247 against the Cubs, his lowest against any NL team, but has hit 44 homers against them.

He has never faced Cubs rookie Angel Guzman (0-4, 7.20), who is making his eighth start and still seeking his first major league win.

Guzman is coming off the worst outing of his career, having allowed career highs of eight runs and 10 hits in three innings of Monday’s 11-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cubs, losers of 11 of 13, are trying to earn a six-game season split with San Francisco.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Schmidt LAD vs. A. Guzman LAD
11-9 Record 0-6
3.59 ERA 7.39
180 K 60
80 BB 37
1.26 WHIP 1.88

Scoreboard

Sunday, Sep 3