The San Francisco Giants boosted their already unwavering confidence by feasting upon two of the NL’s worst teams during their recent road trip.
Building on that momentum at home against a pair of division rivals could help extend their NL West lead.
San Francisco seeks its sixth victory in seven games when it begins a six-game homestand against the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
The Giants completed a 5-1 road trip to Houston and Chicago by beating the Cubs 7-5 on Sunday, scoring twice in the ninth after a shaky outing by Matt Cain.
Former Cub Angel Pagan drove in two runs, including a tiebreaking RBI single in the final frame, to help San Francisco (76-58) improve to a season-best 18 games over .500 and maintain a 4 1/2-game lead on the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants host the Diamondbacks for three before the Dodgers visit the Bay Area next weekend.
“I’ve been on teams before where you’re down runs and you don’t feel like you’re in it anymore,” Cain said. “This team feels like no matter what the score is, they’re gonna keep going out and find ways to score runs. It’s a good feeling to have because you never feel like you’re out of the game.”
That’s seemingly how Arizona’s recent opponents have felt, too.
The Diamondbacks (66-69) have dropped eight of 10 after giving up a walkoff two-run double in a 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday. Arizona, which fell 10 1/2 games behind San Francisco after being 5 1/2 out before its slump, has been outscored 23-5 from the sixth inning on over its last 10 contests.
“We’ve got to keep playing hard,” said catcher Miguel Montero, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth. “…Now we’ve got to go up to San Francisco and go after those guys.”
Allowing late runs has been a trend for Patrick Corbin (5-6, 3.93 ERA), who will look for a more complete effort Monday.
Corbin allowed two hits through six innings before giving up three runs and four hits - including a pair of homers - in the seventh of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Cincinnati. He ended up striking out eight through 6 2-3 innings.
The rookie left-hander had gone 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA over his previous five starts.
“We’ve seen a game or two where he had a low pitch count getting into the seventh, where that has happened,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “It is something he has to learn how to deal with. He threw an exceptional game up until that point.”
Corbin had one of his best outings May 11 when he gave up a run and three hits in seven innings of a 5-1 win over the Giants, who will counter with inconsistent Barry Zito.
The Giants have won Zito’s last five starts, though he allowed three runs and seven hits in a season-low 2 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over Houston.
Zito (10-8, 4.42) was coming off one of his better outings, tossing eight innings to beat Atlanta 5-2 on Aug. 23.
“I didn’t have it,” Zito said. “My command was below average for sure. My timing was off and that ended up making my command off. I was very upset with myself.”
The left-hander felt much better after each of his starts versus the Diamondbacks this season, giving up three runs in six innings of a 7-3 win May 13 before allowing two runs in seven innings of a 4-2 victory May 28.