Which Sanchez will show up for the Giants?

Which Sanchez will show up for the Giants?
August 10, 2011, 2:15 pm
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August 10, 2011

PITTSBURGH (55-60) vs.
GIANTS (64-53)

Coverage begins at noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A night after their latest ugly offensive effort resulted in a shutout, the San Francisco Giants kept the Pittsburgh Pirates off the board and seemed to put their recent ineptitude at the plate behind them.

Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens would certainly like to forget about his latest outing.

The NL's ERA leader prior to being blasted in his last start, Karstens tries to bounce back as the Pirates and Giants play their series finale Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

Pittsburgh (55-60) snapped a 10-game losing streak with some strong pitching and timely hitting in a 5-0 win Monday in San Francisco, but reverted back Tuesday to its woeful form from recent weeks.

Chris Stewart and Aubrey Huff homered - the Giants' 17th and 18th consecutive solo shots since July 6 - to back seven dominant innings from Madison Bumgarner in a 6-0 victory that kept them one-half game ahead of Arizona atop the AL West.

RATTO: Giants' win trumps sideshow for a day

Stewart's homer was the first of the 29-year-old journeyman's major league career.

"Things like that do pull a club together," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

San Francisco (64-53) hasn't put up five or more runs in consecutive contests since July 18 and 19, but might be due for a big day at the plate if Karstens (8-6, 3.05) pitches anything like he did Friday against San Diego.

The right-hander came into the game with an NL-low 2.49 ERA and hadn't allowed more than three earned runs in 18 consecutive starts since mid-April, but he flew past that mark early against the Padres. Karstens gave up nine runs and nine hits while lasting just 3 1-3 innings in a 15-5 loss.

"I couldn't pinpoint what I was doing wrong, but I put it all on my shoulders," he said. "I expect to be better than that."

Karstens is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA over his last six road starts, though, and he may not have to worry about one of San Francisco's most dangerous bats. Carlos Beltran has sat the past two games with a strained right wrist. He hasn't been ruled out Wednesday, but Thursday's scheduled off day could allow him additional rest.

Beltran is 2 for 8 with a homer against Karstens, who gave up five runs - two earned - over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-2 home loss to the Giants on April 28.

San Francisco counters with Jonathan Sanchez (4-6, 4.10), who didn't fare well in his first start after missing six weeks due to left biceps tendinitis. The left-hander gave up five runs and seven hits - two homers - while lasting just 4 2-3 innings in a 9-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday.

He hasn't made it through five innings in any of his last three outings and is walking 5.82 batters per nine innings - worst in the majors among pitchers with at least 17 starts - but Sanchez is still among the major league leaders in strikeouts per nine (9.16).

That could mean some easy outs against Pittsburgh. The Pirates have whiffed a major league-high 239 times since the All-Star break, including 165 since July 25 - 41 more than any other club during that span.

Sanchez hasn't allowed an earned run - he's given up four unearned - over his last 14 1-3 innings against Pittsburgh, and he's struck out 16. Prior to that, however, he was 0-1 with a 14.04 ERA in four appearances versus the Pirates.

The Pirates are hitting .178 (13 for 73) with 24 strikeouts and no homers against lefties since July 31.