Day baseball as Giants, Lincecum go for sweep

July 20, 2011, 1:43 pm
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July 20, 2011

L.A. DODGERS (42-55) vs.
GIANTS (57-41)

Coverage begins at Noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Their performance at the plate, however, leaves much to be desired.

While he's not the biggest name on the market, newly acquired Jeff Keppinger may be able to boost the club offensively.

Seeking a seventh consecutive win over their archrival for the first time in 73 years, the Giants could have Keppinger in the lineup for his debut as they try for a three-game sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers in an enticing matchup of aces Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday.

San Francisco (57-41) defeated Los Angeles 5-3 on Tuesday behind a home run and three RBIs from recently recalled Brandon Belt and eight solid innings from Madison Bumgarner.

URBAN: Busy day and another win for Giants

Manager Bruce Bochy's starters rank third in the majors with a 3.23 ERA, but his offense is among the bottom third in nearly every offensive category, including runs per game (3.68), homers (64) and average (.244).

"Without being harsh, this group just isn't getting it done," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said before Tuesday's victory. "We need to somehow extend the lineup any way we can, and we think (acquiring Keppinger) is an upgrade."

With infielders Freddy Sanchez and Miguel Tejada on the disabled list, San Francisco got Keppinger from Houston for two Double-A pitchers on Tuesday. Keppinger, who homered twice in his last three games with the Astros and is batting .307, is expected to hit second for the Giants.

"I get to go to a team that's in contention," Keppinger said. "This will be the first time I've ever actually been on a team that's been in first place or even with a winning record. It's definitely exciting and that's what you want when you play this game."

URBAN: Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular

The Giants, who have outscored the Dodgers 30-16 during their six-game winning streak in the series, haven't won seven in a row since a 12-game run Oct. 2, 1937-July 4, 1938, when they played in New York and the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

San Francisco has a good chance to extend its run with Lincecum (8-7, 2.99 ERA) on the hill.

Since compiling a 9.39 ERA over his first three starts in June, Lincecum has thrived, going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA while striking out 45 over his last six outings spanning 37 innings.

The right-hander wasn't at his best during Friday's 6-1 win at San Diego, but earned the victory after allowing one run, three hits and three walks in six frames.

"He didn't quite pitch as efficient as he'd like, but overall it's a good job," Bochy said. "His command wasn't quite as sharp, but he found a way to give us six solid innings."

Lincecum has also frustrated the Dodgers of late, limiting them to five earned runs over the last three meetings. He is 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA in five career home starts against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers (42-55) counter with Kershaw (10-4, 2.88), who also has flourished in this matchup. He's compiled a 1.62 ERA in nine career appearances - eight starts - against the Giants, his second-lowest mark versus any NL team.

The left-hander has been superb over his last five starts overall, going 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA. He gave up four unearned runs and five hits in seven innings of Friday's 6-4 win at Arizona.

Kershaw might need to carry a Dodgers team that has scored a combined six runs while batting .173 during its current four-game skid.

"It's kind of the same story for us," manager Don Mattingly said. "The one big hit, or the one big out we need, we're not getting."

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