Giants-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

Every member of the San Francisco Giants' starting rotation at the beginning of the season can say he's been an All-Star at least once, but so far in 2014 it's the new addition to that group who's been the best.

Tim Hudson looks to continue the outstanding start to his Giants career on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates as he tries to lead visiting San Francisco to its first seven-game winning streak since September 2011.

Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong have been All-Stars since 2011, but the Giants' best pitcher so far has been the one who last appeared in the Midsummer Classic in 2010.

With those four underachieving to various degrees thus far - and Cain now on the DL after cutting his finger while making a ham and cheese sandwich - Hudson (4-1, 2.17 ERA) has been one of baseball's best pitchers. The right-hander has gone at least seven innings in all six starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer in five of them.

He lowered his WHIP to 0.74 - second-best in the majors - while coming within an out of a complete game in a 3-2 win over San Diego on Wednesday. Hudson has thrown 3.35 pitches per batter, also second-best in baseball.

''He just put on a clinic,'' manager Bruce Bochy said of Hudson, who has walked two in 45 2-3 innings. ''He stayed down the whole game, had good movement, changed speeds and threw strike one. If you want to show young pitchers how to do it, that's how you do it.''

No Giant has gone at least seven innings in his first seven starts since Vida Blue did so in his first nine outings in 1981.

Hudson went 4-2 with a 2.01 ERA in six starts against the Pirates between 2007-12, but gave up six runs in four innings in a 6-0 loss in Pittsburgh with Atlanta on April 19, 2013.

The Giants (21-11) came into this series averaging 3.4 runs and hitting .228 over their past 20 games, but broke out in the opener. San Francisco pounded out a season-high 20 hits and rallied from six runs down to beat the Pirates 11-10 in 13 innings.

'I thought we were dead in the water,'' Bochy said. ''It was one of the grittiest games I've been a part of in this group.''

San Francisco has 29 runs and 52 hits in its last three games at normally pitcher-friendly PNC Park, and now will try for its longest winning streak since an eight-game run from Sept. 11-18, 2011.

Jeff Locke gave up six runs in 5 1-3 innings Monday, extending the Pirates' drought without a quality start to eight games. The last starter for Pittsburgh (11-19) to record a win was Edinson Volquez on April 17 - 16 games ago.

It's been much longer since Charlie Morton (0-4, 4.21) last recorded a victory. The right-hander hasn't won since Sept. 2, a string of starts that reached 12 on Thursday as he gave up four runs - two earned - over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Baltimore.

Morton cruised through four innings before a 21-minute rain delay, then gave up three runs in the fifth - the fourth time in five starts he's allowed that many runs in one inning.

"I don't want to put my finger on the rain delay, but it was really two different pitchers," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website. "The first four innings, we had sync, we had ground balls, we had a breaking ball that was planned and we had a split-change that was working as well."

Morton is 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in five starts against the Giants since 2011, but he's never figured out how to slow down Angel Pagan. San Francisco's leadoff hitter is 9 for 12 with three extra-base hits lifetime in their matchups.

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