Giants-Cubs Preview


The San Francisco Giants have won three of four to gain some ground in the NL West.

There's still plenty of work ahead to recover from a poor two months, but Wrigley Field could provide a strong opportunity to continue chipping away as they open a six-game road trip Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs.

The Giants (65-58) closed a three-game series against Philadelphia with back-to-back wins, including a 5-2 victory Sunday that got them within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers after entering the weekend 5 1/2 out.

Michael Morse went 3 for 3 in each win and is batting .500 over his last nine in what's been a bit of an up-and-down season for the first-year left fielder.

"I'm just getting hits now. I'm not trying to do too much, just get a pitch to hit," Morse said. "I'm not seeing the ball any better, I'm being more patient."

Joe Panik also had a strong series with three multihit efforts, giving the rookie second baseman a five-game hitting streak.

San Francisco has won five of six at Wrigley and took two of three against the Cubs (54-70) at home from May 26-28, including 20 straight scoreless innings pitched to close out the series.

Ryan Vogelsong didn't have a hand in that streak, but he'll be charged with continuing it. He's not letting a 20-36 stretch preceding the club's last four define the season.

"If we keep playing hard ... things are going to be all right," Vogelsong told MLB's official website. "We have to keep showing resilience."

Vogelsong (7-8, 3.71 ERA) has put together what has likely been his strongest three-start stretch of the season to begin the month. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.60 ERA and .160 opponents' batting average in August. In Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the White Sox, Vogelsong allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings.

His last seven starts at home have ended in San Francisco losses, while three straight road outings have resulted in wins.

The Cubs have traditionally given him quite a hard time, especially at Wrigley. The 37-year-old is 3-3 with a 6.91 ERA and .336 OBA in six starts.

Anthony Rizzo has a home run and two strikeouts in three at-bats against Vogelsong, but he's a career .182 hitter with 32 strikeouts in 77 at-bats against the Giants.

The Cubs are also seeking a three-game winning streak after salvaging a split in a four-game series with the New York Mets. Monday's 4-1 win featured home runs from Rizzo and Javier Baez, his fifth in 14 games since joining the big league club.

The victory also completed a solid series on the mound as Chicago held the Mets to 16 hits in 34 innings for a .140 average. It's the first time since 1983 that the club has held its opponents to four hits or fewer in four straight games. Dating to 1914, the franchise has never done it in five straight.

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1, 3.15) wasn't a part of it but has certainly shown enough quality to continue it. The rookie's last four starts have produced a 2-0 record and 2.49 ERA with one of those decisions coming in Wednesday's 4-2 win over Milwaukee. The left-hander held the Brewers to two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.

"He seems to have some deception," manager Rick Renteria told MLB's official website. "His fastball plays 88, 89 (mph) on the board, but to the hitter, he's throwing balls that are getting by very good hitters. The deception factor he has is very important."