Despite struggling offensively, the San Francisco Giants are in the thick of the NL playoff race.
The Giants hope to bounce back from a disheartening loss to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night when they face Billingsley, who has pitched phenomenally against San Francisco this year.
Barry Zito(notes) and four relievers limited the Dodgers to one hit in Tuesday’s series opener, but the Giants (81-64) couldn’t muster much offense of their own and lost 1-0. Matt Kemp(notes) had the lone hit for Los Angeles and scored the game’s only run in the sixth inning on an error by Giants shortstop Juan Uribe(notes).
“These are basically playoff games,” Zito said. “They’re going to be low scoring.”
San Francisco, coming off a 7-3 road trip in which it took three of four at San Diego, dropped 1 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Padres, who held off Colorado 7-6 at Coors Field on Tuesday. The Giants are also 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the NL wild card.
Considering its offensive struggles, San Francisco may be fortunate merely to be in close contention.
The Giants, who mustered four hits Tuesday, have been shut out in two of their last three games and have plated one run or fewer in four of their last six.
“We’ve got to find ways to put runs on the board,” manager Bruce Bochy said
That’s been a tall order for San Francisco against Billingsley (11-9, 3.65 ERA).
Billingsley is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA and a .141 opponent batting average in four starts against San Francisco this year. The right-hander shut down the Giants less than two weeks ago, yielding two runs, two hits and two walks in eight innings of a 4-2 victory Sept. 3 in Los Angeles.
Billingsley followed his last win over the Giants with a shaky performance against the Padres last Wednesday, allowing four runs and six hits while matching a season high with five walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-0 loss.
The Giants have won nine of Cain’s 11 starts since the All-Star break, with the right-hander going 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA in that stretch. He allowed three runs and five hits while striking out eight over eight innings of Thursday’s 7-3 win over San Diego.
San Francisco has won Cain’s two starts against the Dodgers since the All-Star break after losing 10 of his first 14 career outings against them. In Los Angeles on Sept. 4, Cain gave up four runs in seven innings of the Giants’ 5-4 victory, not recording a decision.