The San Francisco Giants likely will finish the season with their third straight losing record, but they at least have the chance to end a frustrating losing stretch against another struggling franchise.
The Giants look to win their first home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates in more than five years Sunday when the two close a three-game set at AT&T Park.
San Francisco (61-80) ended a seven-game home losing streak against Pittsburgh (60-81) on Saturday with a 7-6 win. Rich Aurilia, Scott McClain and Nate Schierholtz all homered, and Bengie Molina added three hits.
Schierholtz, who was on the bronze medal-winning US baseball team at the Beijing Olympics, was appearing in his fourth game this season and 43rd game in two years for the Giants. The home run was the first of his career, and he’s 9-for-19 (.474) since being called up on Sept. 2.
“You don’t want a guy up there thinking home run,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “But he’s been swinging the bat well and when he squares up and gets it up in the air, it’s going to go.”
The Giants haven’t won a home series against the Pirates since taking two of three in August 2003, and they haven’t won consecutive home games in the same series against the Pirates since 2002.
Pittsburgh and San Francisco have two of the worst records in the NL, and on Sunday, they each will send a struggling pitcher to the mound to close out this series.
Jeff Karstens (2-4, 3.62 ERA) takes the ball for Pittsburgh. He has lost his last four starts and has a 6.04 ERA during that stretch, giving up six home runs over 22 1-3 innings. Last Sunday against Milwaukee, he allowed three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-0 loss.
“Karstens threw great,” manager John Russell said. “He threw the ball very well and he did what he’s capable of doing. He mixed speeds and he kept the ball down and kept them off balance.”
Jonathan Sanchez (8-10, 4.50) is also in the middle of a rough stretch. He has lost his last five starts and six straight decisions. In his last five outings, he has a 6.31 ERA. He’s pitched well in his last two outings, however. After giving up two runs in seven innings against Houston on Aug. 11, Sanchez went on the disabled list for a strained left shoulder and returned on Sept. 1 against the Rockies, allowing three runs and three hits in seven innings of a 4-0 loss.
The Giants have scored just two runs over Sanchez’s 25 2-3 innings of work during his last five starts.