Giants-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

A weekend in San Diego seems to be helping to fix whatever was ailing the San Francisco Giants.

Perhaps the same will be true for Ryan Vogelsong.

The league's ERA leader prior to a horrific last outing, Vogelsong looks to bounce back Sunday and lead the Giants to a three-game sweep of the slumping Padres with a crucial NL West series looming on the horizon.

The Giants (66-54) arrived in San Diego losers in four of their last seven games and 12 of 21, but they've righted the ship by racking up 18 runs and 29 hits to take the first two games of the weekend against the Padres (52-70). The resurgence may be coming at just the right time for the Giants, who will travel to Los Angeles on Monday to open a three-game showdown with the arch-rival Dodgers.

San Francisco leads Los Angeles by one-half game atop the West, where the runner-up is not currently in line for a wild-card spot.

The Giants have totaled 22 runs and are batting .319 in three contests since All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games following a positive test for testosterone.

"It's fun to see our offense work,'' said third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who had two hits and drove in a run. "When you have guys coming through in RBI situations, I'm happy for that.''

Vogelsong (10-6, 2.72 ERA) currently ranks fourth in the NL in ERA, but he led the league with a 2.27 mark prior to Monday's 14-2 loss to Washington. The right-hander allowed eight runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings - the first start of 2012 in which he'd failed to go at least six - while allowing 11 of the 19 batters he faced to reach base.

"Sharpness was not the issue,'' Vogelsong said. "Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. It's part of the game. I have the whole rest of the season to not let one start ruin it.''

Vogelsong has made two brutal appearances at Petco Park - one start and one in relief - giving up nine runs and seven hits over 2 1-3 innings, but has not pitched there since 2005.

Padres starter Clayton Richard (9-12, 3.91) is also looking to put a rough start behind him. Six days after pitching a five-hitter against the Chicago Cubs for his second career shutout, the left-hander yielded five runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 6-0 loss at Atlanta.

Richard fared even worse the last time he faced San Francisco, giving up seven runs in five innings of a 7-1 defeat. He's lost all three of his outings versus the Giants this year while posting a 7.64 ERA and .360 opponent batting average.

Richard's last start marked the beginning of San Diego's current five-game skid. The Padres dropped a season-high six straight May 25-30.

On the bright side for the Padres, their seven runs Saturday were five more than they'd totaled through the first four games of their losing streak. Chase Headley hit a three-run homer - his major league-leading eighth in August - and Carlos Quentin added a solo shot.

"It's been nice to hit a couple of homers,'' Headley said. "You try to focus on wins and losses. When you don't win, it really doesn't matter to you.''