The San Francisco Giants hope their latest victory will provide some much-needed momentum as they begin a difficult stretch of games.
Returning to the place where they began their undefeated run to the 2012 World Series title, the Giants face the St. Louis Cardinals in a day-night doubleheader Saturday after the series opener was postponed because of rain.
San Francisco (29-25) has lost 10 of 16 but hopes to build on Thursday's 5-2 win over Oakland that prevented a season series sweep at the hands of its Bay Area rival.
"If this game got away from us, it would have been a long flight to St. Louis, believe me," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought (Thursday) was really critical."
Pablo Sandoval delivered a go-ahead two-run single to highlight a four-run sixth inning for the Giants, who remain confident despite their recent struggles.
"We've been losing some games but the attitude's been good. That's one thing we never lose," center fielder Angel Pagan told the Giants' official website. "We play with a lot of perseverance and determination to go out there and try to get everything better and play hard and believe that things will change."
Perhaps a return to Busch Stadium will help San Francisco start to string together wins again.
The Giants trailed the Cardinals 3-1 in last year's NL championship series but ran off seven straight victories to win the World Series, starting with a 5-0 win at Busch in Game 5.
St. Louis (35-18), however, owns the best record in the majors and outscored the Giants 20-7 while taking two of three at San Francisco in early April. This series begins a stretch of 12 of 14 on the road for the Giants, featuring games against the NL's top teams in the Cardinals, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. San Francisco also hosts Toronto for two games during that span.
"We have to be on top of our game," Bochy said.
Game 1 starter Matt Cain (4-2, 5.00 ERA) has gone 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA in five starts this month for San Francisco, allowing four runs and six hits in 12 innings to go 1-0 in his last two. He gave up two runs and walked five in five innings of a 7-3 win over Colorado on Sunday.
However, the right-hander is 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA in four starts at St. Louis, including postseason. He allowed nine runs over 3 2-3 innings of a 14-3 home loss to the Cardinals on April 7.
Matt Carpenter is 7 for 9 with a home run against Cain, and has batted .395 during an overall nine-game hitting streak.
Carpenter went 2 for 4 in Thursday's 4-2 loss to Kansas City that ended after 3 a.m. Central Time due to an hour rain delay to start and one of 4 hours, 32 minutes in the ninth inning. The Cardinals led 2-1 heading into the ninth, but fell to 20-7 in May.
Shelby Miller (5-3, 2.02) will oppose Cain looking to end his recent struggles. After allowing one run and striking out 24 in 20 2-3 innings while going 2-0 in his first three May starts, he's given up six runs in 11 innings to go 0-1 in the last two.
The right-hander allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
"I don't think my fastball was as good as it had been earlier on (in the season)," Miller told the Cardinals' official website. "I feel just a little off, but not much. Hopefully I can get that taken care of."
He allowed two runs and walked four in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 win at San Francisco on April 6.
Adam Wainwright (7-3, 2.48) will start the nightcap for St. Louis. The right-hander has won back-to-back starts, giving up one run in 7 1-3 innings of a 10-2 victory over San Diego on May 21 before allowing three runs in eight innings of a 6-3 win at Kansas City on Monday.
"I think as a pitcher, no matter what happens on the other side, you just have to keep battling and eventually if you keep making pitches things will work out," Wainwright said.
He has tossed at least seven innings in eight of his 11 starts, including when he allowed two runs in seven innings to beat San Francisco on April 7.
Wainwright has gone that same distance while posting a 1.71 ERA during a three-start winning streak against the Giants, which includes an 8-3 victory in Game 4 of the NLCS.
He'll be opposed by Madison Bumgarner (4-3, 3.13), who went 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA over six starts in April but is 1-3 with a 5.17 ERA in five starts since. He allowed four runs and walked a career worst-tying five in 6 2-3 innings of Monday's 4-1 loss to Oakland.
Bochy still was impressed with the outing.
"That's the kind of pitching we're going to need," Bochy said. "It doesn't go down as a quality start, but he left the game with a really good start and that's what we're going to need playing these good clubs. He did all he could."
The left-hander has a 6.88 ERA while losing three straight starts against the Cardinals. He gave up six runs and eight hits - including two-run homers to Carlos Beltran and David Freese - over 3 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss in Game 1 of the NLCS the last time he faced them.
Beltran's two hits in six at-bats off Bumgarner are homers, while Freese went deep on two of his three hits in seven at-bats against him.
Bochy announced prior to Friday's rainout that Sandoval would likely miss this series and possibly a full week because of a strain in his right foot.