San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong has had trouble shutting down two of the top bats in a Cincinnati Reds lineup that has regularly frustrated the Giants at Great American Ball Park over the past few seasons.
While he won't have to worry about facing Scott Rolen in Thursday afternoon's finale, he'll still have to contend with Brandon Phillips as the Reds go for an eighth straight home win in the series.
Cincinnati (9-9) rallied for a 4-2 victory Wednesday over the Giants (9-9) for its fifth win in six games to get back to .500 for the first time since April 11, when it was 3-3. The victory also marked the Reds' seventh straight win over San Francisco at Great American Ball Park since a 3-0 loss June 8, 2010.
This is Cincinnati's longest active home winning streak over an opponent, while San Francisco has also lost seven straight games in Arizona.
The Reds looked like their winning streak could end Wednesday trailing 2-0, but Rolen started the comeback with a solo homer to lead off the seventh inning. After the game, the 37-year-old third baseman joked that his first homer since July 6 was a career saver.
"Well, it wasn't quite that,'' manager Dusty Baker said of Rolen, who is batting .183. "When you're not swinging the bat well, life's miserable. He's hit some balls hard.''
Although Rolen is struggling at the plate, he had a two-run double in Tuesday's series-opening 9-2 win and is batting .381 with a homer, four doubles and six RBIs in six career games against the Giants at Great American Ball Park. He has also hit Vogelsong hard, but Baker has already announced he will not play Thursday afternoon following the Wednesday night game.
Vogelsong (0-1, 3.38 ERA) isn't entirely in the clear, though, as he'll still have to face Phillips, who is 5 for 9 with a double lifetime against him.
The two-time All-Star second baseman, who hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs Tuesday, is batting .400 with eight RBIs in his last nine home games against the Giants.
San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval has singled in each of the first two games of this series, and a hit Thursday would extend his hitting streak to 19 games and surpass Johnny Rucker's 1945 mark with New York as the longest season-opening run in franchise history.
Sandoval is 2 for 8 with three strikeouts lifetime against scheduled starter Homer Bailey (1-2, 3.86).
After recording a 5.40 ERA in losing his first two starts, Bailey allowed four runs - one earned - and five hits in seven innings in Friday's 9-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The right-hander hasn't faced the Giants since 2010, and has a 7.94 ERA without a decision in his last three starts in the series.
Vogelsong was solid in his two starts against the Reds during his 2011 All-Star season, recording a 3.75 ERA, but received two runs of support in each game and didn't receive a decision in either outing.
The right-hander has struck out 15 and has limited opponents to a .196 batting average in 13 1-3 innings in his first two starts this season, but has been backed by two total runs of support leaving him without a victory. Against the New York Mets on Saturday, Vogelsong allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings of 5-4 loss, but didn't receive a decision.
The lack of offense is an ongoing problem for the Giants, who are batting .156 with runners in scoring position in the last 10 games.
"No question that's hurting us,'' manager Bruce Bochy said.
- San Francisco
- Scott Rolen
- Cincinnati Reds
- Great American Ball Park