San Francisco (52-43) at Arizona (37-58)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 86° F
  • Game info: 9:40 pm EDT Thu Jul 22, 2010
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After a surprising offensive surge helped San Francisco get back into the thick of the playoff race, the Giants’ bats were silenced last time out.

The club appears to have a good chance of getting back on track against a woeful Arizona Diamondbacks pitching staff.

The Giants open a four-game series in Arizona on Thursday night against the struggling Rodrigo Lopez(notes), who is coming off another disappointing outing.

A season-worst seven-game slide from June 26-July 2 dropped San Francisco 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West. The Giants, though, have since won 12 of 16 to pull within four of division-leading San Diego.

A suddenly potent offense has spurred this charge, as the Giants (52-43) have plated 93 runs since July 3, second-best in the majors. San Francisco, which is also one-half game back of wild card-leading Cincinnati, had scored the majors’ sixth-fewest runs prior to this turnaround.

As well as San Francisco’s offense has played of late, it was limited to five hits and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Dodgers.

“We couldn’t keep the line moving there,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Giants had no trouble offensively in their last series against the Diamondbacks, outscoring them 23-6 in sweeping a three-game set from May 28-30. Pablo Sandoval(notes) drove in five runs in that series, while Aubrey Huff(notes) went 5 for 9 with a homer and two RBIs.

Those two have routinely battered Arizona pitching. Sandoval is 22 for 44 with 12 RBIs in 11 games at Chase Field since 2009, while Huff is a career .418 hitter in 22 games versus the Diamondbacks.

That poor pitching has contributed to Arizona’s struggles against almost everyone. The Diamondbacks (37-58) have the worst ERA in the majors at 5.27 and the second-worst record in the NL.

Despite its struggles, Arizona held the Mets to seven total runs in sweeping a three-game series, capped by Wednesday’s 4-3, 14-inning victory.

“The old us, what we were, might have caved in,” interim manager Kirk Gibson said. “This team’s got so much fight in it right now. We’ve just kind of got a new lease on life, a new outlook.”

The Diamondbacks hope Lopez (5-8, 4.62 ERA) can continue their recent run of success. He was pounded for four home runs in six innings of an 8-5 loss to San Diego on Saturday and has been tagged for eight in three starts this month.

Lopez was also roughed up in his lone start this season against the Giants on May 20, allowing six runs and 10 hits in five innings of an 8-7 win, but didn’t receive a decision. He served up two homers in that outing, and his 23 yielded overall is tied for the major league lead.

San Francisco counters with Matt Cain(notes), who threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks in a 5-0 victory over Arizona on May 28.

Cain (7-8, 3.30) snapped a personal four-game losing streak Saturday, yielding two runs and four hits in seven innings in an 8-4 win over the Mets for his first victory since June 13.

Cain, who has held the Diamondbacks to two runs or fewer in seven of 10 starts, has limited Arizona All-Star center fielder Chris Young to two hits in 15 at-bats.

Young, who hit his 17th homer Wednesday, is batting .183 with four RBIs in 19 games against the Giants since the start of last year.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Cain SF vs. R. Lopez Phi
13-11 Record 7-16
3.14 ERA 5.00
177 K 116
61 BB 56
1.08 WHIP 1.42


Thursday, Jul 22