Sandoval back in lineup for showdown with D'Backs

June 14, 2011, 2:46 pm
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June 14, 2011

GIANTS (37-29) vs.
ARIZONA (37-30)

Coverage begins at 6 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

ARIZONA (AP) -- It's not a surprise the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants are atop the NL West. That the Arizona Diamondbacks are a close second, however, is.

With Matt Cain on the mound, the Giants look to prevent the surging Diamondbacks from overtaking them for the division lead Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game set at Chase Field.

Banged up and weary, the Giants (37-29) head into this first-place showdown following their first off day after going 10-10 during a stretch of 20 straight games.

Despite catcher Buster Posey lost with a broken leg and second baseman Freddy Sanchez out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder, San Francisco has a one-half game lead over Arizona (37-30), which has won 22 of 30.

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"To still be in first place shows we've battled through it so far, and things should be better," right fielder Nate Schierholtz said.

That could come with the expected return of slugger Pablo Sandoval, who has been out since April 29 with a broken hand. Sandoval, batting .313 with five homers and 14 RBIs, is a lifetime .361 hitter with eight home runs and 30 RBIs versus Arizona.

San Francisco's starting pitchers did not receive more than three runs of support in any game of a 6-4 homestand that concluded Sunday with a 4-2 win over Cincinnati. The Giants are 22-5 when they give their starters three or more runs and 15-24 when they score two or fewer.

"If we hit a lick, we might be 10 games over the Diamondbacks," said first baseman Aubrey Huff, batting .321 with four RBIs the last seven games."

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Cain (5-4, 3.36 ERA) has not needed much support in winning his last two starts - giving up two runs and nine hits in 16 innings with 18 strikeouts. He struck out a season-high 11 on Wednesday and threw a five-hitter in beating Washington 3-1 on Wednesday.

The right-hander has been almost as dominant while going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA versus Arizona this season. He's also allowed one run and seven hits in 14 innings to win his last two at Chase Field, including April 15 when he yielded that run and four hits in a 5-2 victory.

San Francisco is 5-1 versus Arizona in 2011, and has won eight of 10 at Chase Field. However, the Diamondbacks have won 10 of 13 at home and took the final three of a four-game road set at Florida.

"This will be a good check for us," manager Kirk Gibson told the Diamondbacks' official website. "We're looking forward to that. They're a good team. We're good too."

Arizona also will hand the ball to rookie Josh Collmenter (4-1, 1.12 ERA), who has a 13-inning scoreless streak. A converted starter, Collmenter has allowed four earned runs in 34 1-3 innings to go 3-1 in six starts.

The right-hander gave up four hits in five innings but did not factor in the decision of a 2-0 win at Pittsburgh on Thursday.

"He's been a challenge for everybody so far," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

This is Collmenter's first start against the Giants, but he pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win in a 6-5, 12-inning home victory April 17.

Catcher Miguel hit three doubles and had four RBIs in Monday's 12-9 win at Florida. He's hit .444 with six RBIs his last four games, but is 2 for 18 versus San Francisco this season.

Teammate Stephen Drew has batted .379 with 11 RBIs his last 15 games, and .344 with three homers against Cain.