Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss, the Diamondbacks try to finally best one of the major’s top pitchers as they open a three-game road series against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.
Arizona (71-71), which led the NL West by 4 1/2 games on Aug. 29, fell 5-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday and got swept in the three-game series to fall 1 1/2 games back of the surging Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks have lost 11 of their last 15 contests and must now chase Los Angeles after holding no worse than a share of the division lead for 137 consecutive days.
“That’s baseball. Anything can happen,” Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew said. “But we’ve got 20 games left. We’ve got to focus on going into San Francisco. We’re going to play every out and every game as hard as we can and see what happens at the end. I’ve still got a good feeling about it.”
No matter how the Arizona players feel, facing Lincecum (15-3, 2.60 ERA) will challenge even the most confident of teams.
“We know he’s a good pitcher, and he’s had a great year,” manager Bob Melvin told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “He’s a guy that you know you have to be on top of your game if you hope to have some success against him.”
A serious NL Cy Young Award contender, Lincecum is 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA over his last eight starts since losing to Milwaukee on July 20. In his last outing, though, Lincecum allowed all five of his runs in the fourth inning while going five in a 6-5, 12-inning loss at Colorado on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four games against Arizona and 1-0 in two outings versus them this season.
The Diamondbacks must fare better at the plate Monday than they did while hitting .188 and being outscored 19-5 during the series with the Dodgers.
Dunn has four home runs and 15 RBIs in 24 games since coming over to Arizona from Cincinnati and has yet to face Lincecum during his career.
The Diamondbacks turn to Yusmeiro Petit (3-4, 3.44) as he tries to bounce back after allowing five runs and four hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-2 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.
The right-hander, who is 3-3 in seven starts in 2008, is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA against the Giants for his career.
San Francisco used a 10-run fourth inning in an 11-6 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday for its second straight victory to take the series. The first eight Giants reached base in that frame as rookie catcher Pablo Sandoval drove in four runs in the inning, three on a bases-loaded double.
“Everything is going right,” said Sandoval, who had five RBIs on Sunday and is hitting .364 in 21 games since being called up from Double-A Connecticut on Aug. 14. “Things here are going almost too easy. But it’s hard when you have to concentrate on so many things.”