The Rockies and Giants look to continue their respective surges as the NL West rivals open a three-game series Monday night at AT&T Park.
Though the NL West is considered one of the weakest divisions in baseball with first-place Arizona just six games over .500, Colorado (61-71) and San Francisco (58-72) have been unable to take advantage.
Coming off the first World Series appearance in franchise history, the Rockies struggled out of the gate and haven’t been able to make up for their slow start. They’re in third place in the division, eight games behind the leaders.
The rebuilding Giants are two games behind the Rockies.
Despite their slim chances of making the playoffs, both clubs have been on a roll lately. Colorado has averaged 5.9 runs while winning seven of nine games. That surge continued Sunday, when defensive replacement Omar Quintanilla hit a walk-off solo home run in the 12th inning of a 4-3 victory over Cincinnati.
San Francisco, meanwhile, has won seven of eight, including a season-high five in a row. After the Giants fell behind 3-0 early, Bengie Molina drove in five runs, including three on a sixth-inning homer, as the Giants completed a three-game sweep of last-place San Diego with a 7-4 victory Sunday.
“The three-run homer couldn’t have come at a better time,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was a well-played game. We got down, battled back, and we had a big inning thanks to Bengie.”
The Giants hope to continue their run with Matt Cain (8-9, 3.52 ERA) taking the mound Monday. The right-hander has a 1.88 ERA over his last eight games, but has been rewarded with only three wins in that stretch. He held Florida to two runs in 7 2-3 innings Wednesday and left with a 5-2 lead, but didn’t get a decision after the San Francisco bullpen gave up three runs in the ninth. The Giants went on to win 6-5 on Molina’s walk-off sacrifice fly.
“It doesn’t matter if I win six games or 20 games, or whatever,” Cain told the Giants’ official Web site. “If we’re having success as a team, that’s the biggest thing. It’s just having wins. It doesn’t matter who gets them, or how you get them. It just depends on if we do get them. And we just need to keep on doing that.”
Cain, who’s hoping to even his record for the first time since he was 1-1 in April 2007, is 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 12 career starts against the Rockies.
He’ll match up against Colorado’s Jeff Francis (3-8, 5.52), who has also struggled to get wins lately. Francis, who didn’t pitch at all in July because of left shoulder inflammation, hasn’t won in five starts since beating Cleveland on June 18.
After a shaky return from the disabled list Aug. 7, the left-hander has posted a 3.00 ERA in back-to-back quality starts, but didn’t get a decision in either game - both Colorado victories. He held the Los Angeles Dodgers to three runs - one earned - in six innings of the Rockies’ 4-3 win Wednesday.
Francis is 6-5 with a 4.92 ERA in 14 career starts against the Giants. He won his last three starts against them in 2007 with a 1.99 ERA in those games.