Giants head East, looking to break slump vs. Bucs

Giants head East, looking to break slump vs. Bucs
April 26, 2011, 1:34 pm

April 26, 2011

GIANTS (10-11) vs.
PITTSBURGH (10-12)
Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants aren't hitting the ball well or getting the job done on the mound. The defending World Series champions hope an eastern swing can help them get back on track.

The Giants try to snap their season-high four-game losing streak Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates as they begin a 10-game trip.

NEWS: Giants 2011 stats

Mired in its longest skid since an 0-7 stretch from June 26-July 2, San Francisco (10-11) has plenty to fix as it opens this three-game set. Not only are the Giants batting .194 and averaging 2.8 runs during their losing streak, the team's starters - second in the NL last season with a 3.54 ERA - have a 7.71 ERA in the last four games.

San Francisco walked a season-high seven in Sunday's 9-6, 10-inning loss to Atlanta and surrendered 16 free passes in three games while getting swept in a rematch of last season's NL division series.

REWIND: Giants swept as Braves rally vs. Wilson in 10th

"We are walking way too many guys, there's no way around that," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website.

That hasn't been a major problem for Matt Cain (2-1, 3.42 ERA), who has 16 strikeouts and six walks in four starts. The right-hander, though, has plenty to improve Tuesday when he looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season.

After allowing a combined three runs in his first three starts, Cain gave up six runs and nine hits in Wednesday's 10-2 loss at Colorado. He lasted just 4 2-3 innings and his ERA rose two full runs.

REWIND: Cain lit up in Colorado's 10-2 win

"(My stuff) was fine. Just definitely the big hit (a three-run homer) by (Ty) Wigginton kind of put a damper on things and put our guys in a big hole," Cain said. "That's not something I wanted to do."

Cain is 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA in seven starts against Pittsburgh.

He will face a Pirates team that took two of three from Washington to open its homestand. Brandon Wood, acquired off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, had a two-run double in his Pirates debut and Paul Maholm struck out eight in seven innings to help Pittsburgh (10-12) win 4-2 on Monday.

NEWS: MLB standings

The Pirates will look for another strong start Tuesday when Charlie Morton (2-1, 3.33) gets a chance to rebound from a rough outing. The right-hander, who gave up four total earned runs in his first three starts, surrendered six and a career-high-tying 10 hits in Wednesday's 6-0 loss at Florida.

"They were just hitting my slider," Morton said. "It wasn't sinking."

Morton, who has 12 strikeouts and 15 walks this season, is 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA in four starts against the Giants.

Morton has allowed just one hit in nine matchups with Pablo Sandoval, but the Giants' third baseman could give him problems. After hitting just .268 with 13 homers in 2010, a slimmer Sandoval is batting .319 with five home runs - four in his last nine games - and 13 RBIs.

"Right now I feel great," he said. "I'm hitting the ball well right-handed. I'm just trying to be more patient at home plate. It's just one month."

He is a .344 hitter in 15 games against Pittsburgh.

Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, 5 for 8 in the last two games, scored four times and had four hits in 10 at-bats as Pittsburgh dropped two of three June 4-6 in the Giants' last visit to PNC Park. Walker has never faced Cain.