The Arizona Diamondbacks are atop the NL West, but that could quickly change.
They open a 10-game road trip against division opponents with a three-game set versus the San Francisco Giants on Friday.
The Diamondbacks (50-51) have been sputtering along for the past few months, although they still lead the West by one game over the Los Angeles Dodgers. This trip will conclude with four games at Los Angeles.
Playing on the road and within the division have both spelled trouble lately for Arizona, which has lost 10 of its last 15 away from home, seven of its nine versus the West after opening the season with a 20-5 divisional mark.
The Diamondbacks won four of their first five meetings with San Francisco (43-58), but suffered a three-game home sweep to the Giants May 27-29.
“We have to play better on the road, there’s no doubt about that,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin told the team’s official Web site. “We have to put together some winning streaks and win five of six or seven of eight, then you start feeling good about yourself. We know we’re a good team, we just have to prove it to ourselves on a consistent basis.”
In Friday’s series opener, Melvin gives the ball to Dan Haren (9-5, 2.58 ERA).
Haren gave up four hits with seven strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA in his last seven starts, with 48 strikeouts in 49 innings over that span.
“He’s been phenomenal for the better part of two months,” Melvin said. “I’m not sure there’s a better pitcher in baseball right now.”
In his only start of the season against the Giants on May 27, Haren gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-3 defeat. He is 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA in nine career starts versus the Giants.
Arizona first baseman Conor Jackson went 3-for-3 with a run-scoring triple in Wednesday’s 10-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs, and is batting .413 (19-for-46) with two homers, six RBIs and 10 runs in his last 10 games. He’s 7-for-9 with a homer lifetime against Friday’s scheduled Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez (8-5, 4.10).
Sanchez is 0-1 with a 6.28 ERA in three starts this month after going 6-1 with a 3.09 ERA in his previous seven outings. On Saturday, he gave up four runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-5 loss to Milwaukee, but did not factor in the decision.
The left-hander is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two outings against Arizona this season.
The Giants defeated Washington 1-0 on Thursday to sweep a three-game series after winning only one of their previous 10 games. San Francisco hasn’t won four in a row since a four-game sweep at Washington June 6-9.
Dave Roberts returned to the Giants’ lineup Thursday for the first time since going on the disabled list in late April following left knee surgery. He made an immediate impact, going 2-for-4 and driving in the game’s only run in the eighth inning.
“To win three games going into the Arizona series is big for us,” Roberts said. “It was fun.”