Giants-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Since the San Francisco Giants took two of three from San Diego three weeks ago, little has gone right for the reigning World Series champions.

Things have not been much better for the Padres.

The Giants look to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat when they visit the struggling Padres on Thursday night.

After winning two straight at home over San Diego (41-51) on June 18-19, San Francisco was three games over .500 and 1 1/2 behind first-place Arizona in the NL West. Since then, the Giants (40-50) have averaged 2.3 runs while losing 16 of 19 to fall into last place in the division.

"It seems like everything is going wrong," losing pitcher Matt Cain said after Wednesday's 7-2 home loss to the New York Mets dropped the Giants 10 games under .500 for the first time since 2008. "We're not pitching, we're not fielding and we're not getting hits.

"This is a pretty bad skid and we need to find a way out of it.''

Cain failed to make it out of the first inning and the Giants didn't score until the seventh Wednesday en route to being swept at home for the first time since July 27-29.

"It's not exaggerated. When you're going through a streak, it wears on you mentally as much as physically," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "It's been a daily issue. We're playing and there's a lot of faith we'll get out of this."

Bochy, however, needs some of his top players to produce.

Hunter Pence is 5 for 51 with a homer and three RBIs in his last 13 games and Pablo Sandoval 6 for 53 with no home runs and two RBIs in his last 14.

Sandoval, however, is 10 for 22 with four RBIs in his last five versus San Diego.

San Francisco starting pitchers have a 7.07 ERA while the team's gone 1-8 in July, but scheduled starter Madison Bumgarner (9-5, 3.05 ERA) earned the only victory. The left-hander allowed a two-run homer and two other hits while striking out nine in seven innings of a 4-2 win over the surging Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

The All-Star has a 2.25 ERA while winning five of six starts, and is 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA on the road during that stretch.

Bumgarner is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two home starts this season against the Padres, but 2-3 with a 3.93 ERA in six all-time at Petco Park.

San Francisco is 5-4 versus San Diego this season, but was swept in San Diego in April. One night after snapping a 10-game slide, the Padres lost 5-4 to Colorado on Wednesday. Their offense hasn't been much better than the Giants, averaging 2.6 runs in their last 12 contests.

"The guys come in every day ready to play,'' manager Bud Black said. "I don't see any bad signs during our at-bats or giving at-bats away. I'm not seeing fundamental plays not being made in the field. There are going to be physical mistakes, but there haven't been mental mistakes over the past couple of weeks.''

Scheduled starter Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.79) has a 1.93 ERA while winning his last two starts against Giants, including April 28 when he gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-4 victory.

However, he's 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA in his last four overall. The right-hander gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 loss at Washington on Saturday.

San Diego's Carlos Quentin is batting .320 with two homers and six RBIs in his last six games. He's 2 for 5 versus Bumgarner.

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