Giants-Cardinals Preview

The Associated Press

The NL West-leading San Francisco Giants have slugged their way to a three-game winning streak, with Hunter Pence starting to contribute.

Matt Cain wouldn't mind seeing the offensive surge continue Monday night in the opener of a four-game set with a St. Louis Cardinals club playing excellent ball at home.

San Francisco (59-49), the division leader by one-half game over Los Angeles, hit .360 with 10 doubles, two triples, five homers and 35 runs while sweeping three games at Colorado, capped by Sunday's 8-3 victory. The weekend was a dramatic improvement after the Giants batted .204 average with one homer and 19 runs during a 1-7 stretch.

"That's the way it has to be," manager Bruce Bochy told the team's official website. "We can't just rely on pitching all the time. We have to find a way to put runs on the board."

Pence is starting to do his part, collecting four hits - three doubles - and four RBIs in the Colorado series. He's 4 for 22 in five games since being acquired from Philadelphia prior to Tuesday's trade deadline.

"It felt good to get some hits that counted and you feel like part of the team," Pence said. "I'm getting to know everyone and just settling in. It feels really good and I'm really excited about this whole opportunity."

Pence may also be excited to face the Cardinals (58-49), since he's hitting .363 in his last 23 regular-season games against them. He's 7 for 14 against Jake Westbrook, St. Louis' scheduled starter Monday.

Cain (10-4, 2.82 ERA) certainly wouldn't mind improved support from Pence and the rest of the Giants' lineup. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in his last seven starts, being backed by an average of 3.09 runs in that span.

He didn't get any offensive support Wednesday, while battling through five innings and allowing two runs, seven hits and three walks in a 2-1 loss to New York.

Cain is 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA in seven career starts against the Cardinals, including a 7-5 home victory while yielding four runs in six innings May 17.

St. Louis (59-49) has won six in a row at home after completing a three-game sweep of Milwaukee with Sunday's 3-0 victory. The Cardinals are three games back of Pittsburgh for the second NL wild card.

"It's still a little early to be checking scoreboards and stuff," said Daniel Descalso, who was 6 for 10 with three RBIs in the Brewers series. "But we've been playing pretty well. It's nice to come home and get three wins."

Westbrook (10-8, 3.79) has won four of his last five home starts behind a 3.03 ERA.

He's also won three in a row overall, but struggled in his latest outing Wednesday, allowing five runs, nine hits and four walks in six innings of a 9-6 victory at Colorado.

Westbrook is 0-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three career starts against the Giants, all ending in Cardinals losses.

Matt Holliday is batting .451 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in his last 22 home games. However, he's 4 for 18 with one RBI in his last five home games against the Giants, and is 7 for 37 (.189) with three homers lifetime versus Cain.

What to Read Next