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Astros-Giants Preview

AP - Sports

A trio of San Francisco Giants played a huge role in the NL's most-lopsided All-Star victory.

After limping into the break, the Giants hope to get their season back on track beginning in Friday night's second-half opener against the lowly Houston Astros.

San Francisco (46-40) has dropped seven of nine, but is only one-half game back of NL West-leading Los Angeles.

"We'll take where we're at right now," Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "This is what you play for, to be right in the thick of things at this point, and we are."

A sluggish offense is partially responsible for San Francisco's latest woes, as the team combined for three runs in losing its last two games and has plated three or fewer in seven of the last 12 contests.

Despite the struggles, two Giants had few problems offensively in Tuesday's 8-0 win for the NL. Pablo Sandoval hit the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star history and Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer and won the MVP award.

Sandoval's triple was part of a five-run first inning, which was more than enough help for NL starter Matt Cain, who allowed one hit in two innings to earn the win and give the NL home-field advantage for the World Series.

As poor as the Giants were playing before the Midsummer Classic, the Astros were even worse.

Houston (33-53) has one win in its last 11 games and owns the majors' worst record. The club traded slugger Carlos Lee to Miami on July 4 and more moves could be on the way.

"There's a lot of good things that happened and a lot of things we have to work on," manager Brad Mills told the Astros' official website.

One of the biggest areas Houston needs to improve is its play away from Minute Maid Park. The Astros have three wins in their last 22 road games and are 9-32 on the season.

Reversing this trend appears to be difficult against Madison Bumgarner (10-5, 3.27), who hopes to bounce back from his worst outing of the year.

Bumgarner was tagged for a season-high seven runs and nine hits - including three homers - in five innings of a 9-4 loss to Washington on July 4.

It would seem he should have a good shot at rebounding at AT&T Park, where he is 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA in seven starts and has a 1.09 ERA in winning his last three there. One of those outings came against the Astros on June 12, when the left-hander allowed two runs and six hits while striking out 12 in 7 2-3 innings of a 6-3 win.

The Giants took two of three in that series, which was highlighted by Cain's perfect game. Cabrera was 4 for 12 with a homer and three RBIs in the three games, while Sandoval was 5 for 12 with two RBIs for San Francisco, which is 9-4 against Houston at home since 2009.

San Francisco will be getting its first look of the season at Jordan Lyles (2-5, 5.08), who made his only start in the series on Aug. 20, yielding two unearned runs in five innings of a 7-5 victory.

Lyles made the Astros' final start before the break against Milwaukee on Sunday, giving up two runs and six hits in seven innings of a 5-3, 10-inning win. It was the third time in four starts the righty permitted two or fewer runs.

Jose Altuve, Houston's lone All-Star, is 5 for 11 with a homer lifetime against Bumgarner.

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