Washington (38-63) at San Francisco (42-58)

Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 3:35 pm EDT Thu Jul 24, 2008
  • TV: MASN2, KNTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

AT&T Park hasn’t been too friendly to the San Francisco Giants this season. Matchups with the Washington Nationals have been.

The Giants look to sweep a series at home for the first time this year and complete a season series sweep of the Nationals as the clubs close a three-game set on Thursday.

San Francisco (42-58) has the worst home record in baseball at 19-31 and ranks near the bottom of the majors in home scoring with 3.9 runs per game.

A visit from the Nationals (38-63), however, has the Giants poised to sweep a series at home for the first time since Aug. 24-26, 2007, and a season series against an NL opponent for the first time since winning all six of their meetings with the New York Mets in 2002.

The Giants have outscored the Nationals 37-13 in winning the teams’ first six matchups this year. That win streak appeared to be in jeopardy with San Francisco trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning Wednesday night before Rich Aurilia delivered a two-run double and Omar Vizquel added another RBI double to lead the Giants to a 6-4 victory.

“This gives us a lot of confidence that we can do it again,” said Giants catcher Bengie Molina, who led off the eighth with a single before getting pulled for a pinch runner. “Games like this get your confidence back up and make you believe you can win games.”

Wednesday’s victory clinched San Francisco’s first series win at AT&T Park since it took two of three against Philadelphia from May 9-11.

“It’s a great feeling and it does so much for a club. It’s something you can build on. All season they’ve been going hard for nine innings,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s nice to win a series here.”

The Giants’ dominance of the Nationals has overshadowed the return of Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, who missed 48 games with a torn labrum in his left shoulder before being activated for Tuesday’s series opener. The third baseman has gone 4-for-8 with two walks in his first two games off the disabled list, and is batting .395 (17-for-43) during an 11-game hitting streak dating to May 16.

Zimmerman is batting in the No. 3 hole ahead of cleanup hitter Austin Kearns, who’s batting .305 in 15 games since a six-week stint on the DL because of elbow surgery.

“Kearns and Zimmerman back-to-back: It’s a good thing to our lineup,” Nationals pitcher Jason Bergmann told the team’s official Web site. “We are really happy about that.”

Zimmerman and Kearns will match up against San Francisco starter Matt Cain (5-8, 4.08 ERA) on Thursday. The right-hander has posted a 3.79 ERA and struck out 19 in 19 innings spanning his last three starts, but he’s 0-2 in that stretch and the Giants have lost all three games.

Cain, who gave up four runs in six innings of a 9-1 loss to Milwaukee on Friday, is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals. He held them to one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory June 9.

The Nationals will counter with Tim Redding (7-4, 4.17), who was tagged for six runs in four innings of a 7-6 road loss to Atlanta on Friday. It was the right-hander’s first defeat in 13 outings since falling to Florida on May 9. He went 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA between losses.

Redding is 0-4 with a 6.49 ERA in seven games - five starts - against the Giants.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Redding Phi vs. M. Cain SF
10-11 Record 8-14
4.95 ERA 3.76
120 K 186
65 BB 91
1.43 WHIP 1.36

Scoreboard

Thursday, Jul 24