The NL West-leading Diamondbacks will be trying for their sixth straight win Monday when they open a three-games series with the Giants at AT&T Park.
The Diamondbacks (81-63) are coming off a three-game sweep of St. Louis and are three games ahead of second-place San Diego in the West. Each of their last 22 games have come against teams in playoff contention, and they have gone 12-10 over that span.
But Arizona won’t be thinking about the standings when it visits the last-place Giants (65-78).
“At this point and time of the year a team may not be in the playoff race, but they’re always looking to make a splash, upset the teams that are,” first baseman Tony Clark told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “So indifferent to who we’re playing, we simply need to come out and try to put ourselves in position to win a ballgame.”
The Diamondbacks have split their 12 meetings with the Giants this season, but are just 1-5 in San Francisco.
“We don’t look at anybody any differently, and the Giants are a team we’ve had trouble with in the past, so we have to go in there and play our best to win,” manager Bob Melvin told the Diamondbacks’ team site.
Arizona beat St. Louis 6-5 on Sunday behind homers from Chris Young and Justin Upton, and a two-run double from Clark. The victory wrapped up a 6-3 homestand for the Diamondbacks, who have dropped four of their last five on the road.
The Giants, meanwhile, took two of three from another playoff contender— the Los Angeles Dodgers—over the weekend. Ray Durham, who is batting a disappointing .218, hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit three-run homer in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 4-2 win.
“That might be the best thing that’s happened to him all year,” starter Matt Cain said of Durham. “So deserving, too. He’s working his tail off.”
On Monday, San Francisco will face Livan Hernandez (10-9, 4.79 ERA), who went 45-45 in 110 starts for the Giants from 1999-2002. He is 3-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 11 career starts against his former team but has not received a decision in two starts against them this season while posting a 3.60 ERA.
Hernandez won for the first time in four starts on Wednesday despite giving up five runs in five innings of a 9-6 victory over Jake Peavy and the San Diego Padres. The veteran right-hander failed to last six innings for the first time in seven outings.
San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds, who became baseball’s all-time home run leader when he hit No. 756 on Aug. 7, is 8-for-17 (.471) with four homers and eight walks all-time against Hernandez. The 43-year-old left fielder homered off him on June 29 in San Francisco for No. 750.
Arizona counters with Tim Lincecum (7-4, 4.05), who is coming off the shortest outing of his rookie season. The right-hander lasted just three innings on Tuesday, allowing three runs without getting a decision in San Francisco’s 6-5 loss in Colorado.
The Giants had skipped his previous start as his innings piled up, but Lincecum said the long rest wasn’t the problem.
“I just left the ball up too much,” he told the Giants’ team site. “If I can get back to keeping the ball low and throwing strikes down there, I’ll be fine.”
Lincecum looked strong in his only start against the Diamondbacks, throwing seven innings and striking out a season-high 12 in a 13-0 home win on July 1.