The San Francisco Giants proved they can play with the leaders in the NL West. They now take to the road trying to face a disappointing team mired in the division’s cellar.
The Giants begin their final road trip of the season - an 11-game trek versus West rivals - Thursday when they open a four-game set with the San Diego Padres.
The Giants (65-80) played the role of spoiler perfectly by sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game series, capped with Wednesday’s 4-3 victory. Eugenio Velez hit a two-run, two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth for his second consecutive game-winning hit as San Francisco matched a season high with its fifth consecutive victory.
“In that situation always I’m looking for a fastball,” said Velez, who hit an 0-2 fastball into the gap in right-center field. “I’m a fastball hitter so I don’t want to swing at something soft and hit a groundball or something like that. If I get a fastball in that situation with two strikes, I have to swing. I was waiting for it.”
Velez had a game-winning single Tuesday.
The Giants are 10-4 against the Padres this season, going 4-1 at Petco Park.
Matt Cain (8-11, 3.75 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA in his last four starts, will try to give San Francisco its first six-game winning streak since Aug. 23-28, 2007. The right-hander did not get a decision Saturday after being reached for four runs and a season-worst 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings against Pittsburgh before the Giants rallied for a 7-6 victory.
Cain dominated the Padres in the first part of his career, going 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his first five starts. But he has gone 0-4 despite a 2.88 ERA in the last nine outings, with the Giants providing just 15 runs of support in those games. Cain is 0-1 in three starts versus San Diego in 2008.
The Padres (65-90), on pace for their worst season since going 64-98 in 2003, lost the final two games of their series with the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, including a 7-2 defeat Wednesday.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had an RBI groundout in Wednesday’s loss, is 2-for-20 with five strikeouts lifetime versus Cain. Khalil Greene has been an all-or-nothing hitter against Cain with four homers and also nine strikeouts in 31 at-bats.
Josh Geer (1-0, 3.60) makes his third major league start and hopes to improve his control to last longer in a game. The right-hander has thrown 211 pitches in his first two starts, but has pitched just five innings in each outing, walking six overall.
Geer was reached for two runs and seven hits in five innings last Friday against Milwaukee in San Diego’s 3-2, 11-inning loss.