Chicago (59-77) at San Francisco (71-65)

Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 3:45 pm EDT Wed Aug 31, 2011
  • TV: CSN, CSBA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Francisco Giants may have been caught looking ahead to a pivotal series with the team they’re chasing in the NL West.

A rough stretch against three of the worst teams in the league is only increasing the importance of that looming set.

With division-leading Arizona visiting this weekend, the Giants will try to create some momentum by salvaging a victory from this three-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

San Francisco (71-65) was atop the West with a four-game lead on the Diamondbacks on July 28, but a 10-21 stretch has dropped the Giants a season-high six games behind surging Arizona.

The defending World Series champions appeared to be in position to capitalize on a favorable portion of the schedule, but have lost seven of 11 games against Houston, San Diego and Chicago (59-77) - the owners of the worst three records in the NL.

“There’s no other choice but to come out every day and fight our way out of it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re digging ourselves too big of a hole.”

Much of the Giants’ troubles have stemmed from a weak offense which is hitting .210 with four homers while averaging 2.3 runs over the last 12 games.

Those struggles continued Tuesday with a 5-2 loss to the Cubs, one day after they were two-hit in a 7-0 defeat in the series opener.

“We were better,” Bochy said of his club’s nine hits Tuesday. “They started to get it going. It wasn’t enough though. We know that.”

San Francisco announced hours before this game that outfielder Aaron Rowand(notes) and infielder Miguel Tejada(notes) have been designated for assignment.

Rowand, the team’s second-highest paid player behind pitcher Barry Zito(notes), is making $12 million this season and was due the same for 2012. He was batting .233 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 108 games.

Tejada received a $6.5 million, one-year free agent deal in December to join the Giants. He was batting .239 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 91 games.

The Giants will now try to avoid being swept by the Cubs for the first time since Sept. 24-26, 2009.

Giving the ball to Madison Bumgarner(notes) (8-12, 3.59 ERA) at AT&T Park would appear to give San Francisco a good chance at avoiding that fate.

The left-hander is 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA in his past seven home starts, allowing one run in 13 1-3 innings while winning his last two. He was impressive there again Friday, holding the Astros to one run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 2-1 victory.

Bumgarner is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts against the Cubs, but has allowed Alfonso Soriano(notes) to go 4 for 7 with three doubles.

That may not bode well for the Giants since Soriano has three hits in this series with two leaving the park. He connected for a mammoth solo shot Tuesday, giving him four homers and 11 RBIs with a .333 average in nine visits to San Francisco.

“I’m just feeling good at the plate the last couple of games,” Soriano said. “We’re playing very relaxed. We want to finish strong and feel good going into winter.”

The Cubs are scheduled to give the ball to Rodrigo Lopez(notes) (4-5, 4.80), who has lost his last two starts while surrendering nine runs and 15 hits in 11 1-3 innings.

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.66 ERA in five road starts, and is 0-4 with a 6.31 ERA in seven career outings against the Giants.

Lopez allowed four runs - one earned - and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 6-3 loss to San Francisco at Wrigley Field on June 28.

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Starting Pitchers

R. López Phi vs. M. Bumgarner SF
6-6 Record 13-13
4.42 ERA 3.21
54 K 191
29 BB 46
1.48 WHIP 1.21

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Aug 31