Giants try to avoid sweep ... and second place

Giants try to avoid sweep ... and second place
August 3, 2011, 1:58 pm
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August 3, 2011

ARIZONA (61-49) vs.
GIANTS (61-49)

Coverage begins at 12:00 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks traded for Jason Marquis over the weekend in hopes of bolstering their starting rotation.

His impressive career numbers against the San Francisco Giants surely played a part in their decision to acquire him.

Marquis makes his Diamondbacks debut as visiting Arizona tries to take sole possession of the NL West lead with a three-game sweep of the Giants on Wednesday.

The Diamondbacks (61-49), who haven't been alone atop the division this late in the season since Sept. 5, 2008, are in position to accomplish that feat after winning 6-1 on Tuesday.

URBAN: Giants know Arizona is for real

Arizona entered this series two games behind San Francisco (61-49), but after Ian Kennedy defeated Matt Cain in Monday's 5-2 victory, Daniel Hudson outdueled Tim Lincecum to forge a first-place tie.

"It's a lot of fun but at the same time there's a long way to go," Hudson said. "The division goes through San Francisco and we have a lot of games left with the Giants."

Justin Upton, batting .436 with 21 RBIs over a 14-game hitting streak, hit his MLB-best seventh homer since July 21 while Paul Goldschmidt went deep in just his second game since getting recalled from Double-A Mobile on Monday.

"To come up here in this environment and do what he's done is a huge lift for us," manager Kirk Gibson said of the 23-year-old first baseman, who had 30 homers and 94 RBIs in 103 games in the minors.

"He's become part of our team. You have to be awed by it. He's shown great character by the way he's controlled his emotions."

Marquis (8-5, 3.95 ERA), meanwhile, suddenly finds himself in the midst of the NL West race after he was acquired from Washington on Saturday.

The right-hander's success against the Giants could give the Diamondbacks an advantage as they try for their first sweep at San Francisco since July 25-27, 2008. Marquis, 5-3 with a 2.31 ERA over 11 career starts against the Giants, is 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA lifetime at AT&T Park.

"I've always liked pitching in that ballpark, for one," Marquis told MLB.com. "Ultimately it comes down to executing pitches, I've come up with pretty good game plans with some of my pitching coaches and catchers in the past. Maybe my style of pitching suits me against their lineup. I'm looking forward to Wednesday and getting off to a good fresh start, and we'll see what happens."

"Anytime you pitch a big game, that's what you live for, that's why we play this game."

Marquis, 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA over his last five road outings, has made things difficult on both Aaron Rowand and Carlos Beltran. Rowand is 4 for 24 lifetime against Marquis while Beltran has gone 3 for 20.

San Francisco is 4 for 35 (.114) with runners in scoring position and has been outscored 31-8 during its season worst-tying five-game skid.

"These two clubs see each other two more times," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're going stagnant with these bats and we need to get them going."

As their offense continues to falter, the Giants hope to regroup behind Ryan Vogelsong (8-1, 2.23), who's been somewhat rocky on the road of late but continues to shine at home. The right-hander allowed three runs over the first two innings Friday at Cincinnati before retiring 16 of the final 19 batters he faced during the 4-3, 13-inning loss.

Vogelsong, however, is 5-1 over 10 games - nine starts - at AT&T Park, compiling an MLB-leading 1.28 home ERA.

He gave up two runs and six hits in six innings but didn't factor in the decision of a 3-2 loss at Arizona on June 16.