Vogelsong, fading Giants fight to move forward

August 30, 2011, 3:36 pm
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Aug. 30, 2011

CUBS (58-77) vs.
GIANTS (71-64)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants are making things awfully difficult on themselves, but they've proven they can come back from a daunting deficit.

Coming off their worst offensive showing of the season, the Giants try to avoid falling even further out of first place when they face the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

A multitude of concerns seemed to arise for San Francisco (71-64) in Monday's series-opening 7-0 loss. The Giants' punchless offense was two-hit by the unlikely Randy Wells, and Chicago (58-77) made Tim Lincecum look quite vulnerable, tagging the two-time Cy Young Award winner for a career-high three homers.

The discouraging performance, coupled with a victory by NL-West leading Arizona, dropped the Giants five games out of first place for the first time since May 2.

URBAN: The Giants just aren't very good

Although the Giants have lost seven of 11 and are running out of time, a surge to first place isn't out of the question.

Exactly one year ago - on Aug. 30 of last season - San Francisco was five games behind West-leading San Diego, but the Giants overcame that deficit to win the division en route to a World Series championship.

"At this time last year we were in a similar spot but we were gaining ground, not going backward," Lincecum said. "Right now it's obviously frustrating for everybody. It's one of those situations where it's hard to keep your head up when things aren't really going our way."

To overtake Arizona this year, San Francisco almost certainly needs its offense to show some signs of life.

RELATED: MLB Standings

The Giants are last in the NL in runs at 454 and batting average at .237, and they've been even worse lately, plating 10 runs while hitting .184 in the last six games.

All-Star Pablo Sandoval is 2 for 16 in that stretch, while Cody Ross is 0 for 10 with five strikeouts in his last four games.

Carlos Beltran posted three straight two-hit games before Monday, but he went 0 for 4 and has four RBIs in 18 games with the Giants.

They hope for better luck against Matt Garza (6-10, 3.68 ERA), who'll be facing San Francisco for the first time.

Garza permitted six runs - three earned - and eight hits in five innings of Thursday's 8-3 loss to Atlanta after recording a 1.80 ERA in his previous four outings.

Although the Giants' offense has struggled, pitching in San Francisco could give Garza problems. The right-hander has a 5.07 road ERA, compared to a 2.76 ERA at home.

Ryan Vogelsong (10-4, 2.54) should benefit from pitching at AT&T Park, where he has a 1.98 ERA - the majors' fourth-best home ERA.

Vogelsong, however, gave up three runs, six hits and four walks in 7 1-3 innings of Thursday's 3-1 home defeat to Houston, losing his second straight start - both to the Astros.

The right-hander is enjoying quite a renaissance with the Giants, but has already amassed a career-high 142 innings and seems to be slowing down a bit. After going 9-1 with a 2.19 ERA in his first 20 outings, Vogelsong is 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA in his last four, although the Giants have scored only one total run in those three defeats.

Vogelsong has been backed by 15 total runs in winning his two starts against the Cubs this year while posting a 2.45 ERA.

Chicago snapped a four-game losing streak Monday and won for the second time in nine games. Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Blake DeWitt and Carlos Pena all went deep for the Cubs, who lead the NL with 38 homers this month.