With hopes fading, Giants face struggling S.D.

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With hopes fading, Giants face struggling S.D.

Sept. 12, 2011

SAN DIEGO (63-84) vs.
GIANTS (76-70)

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

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- It may be too little, too late for the Giants, but another series with the San Diego Padres could help them string some wins together.

With their playoff hopes flickering, the reigning World Series champions look to build on their best offensive performance in more than a month Monday night when they face the Padres for the second series in a week.

The Giants (76-70) appear highly unlikely to reach the postseason, trailing NL West-leading Arizona by 8 12 games with 16 to go in the regular season, including three in Phoenix next week.

Their offense has been a major problem all year, as their 3.4 runs per game rank last in the majors and their .238 team average is among the lowest.

The bats managed to come up big Sunday, as San Francisco had six doubles among its 11 hits in an 8-1 win over the Dodgers. It was the Giants' highest run output since beating the Diamondbacks by the same score Aug. 3, and ended a three-game slide during which they'd batted .163 and totaled two runs.

REWIND: Offense awakens, Giants avoid sweep

"It seems to be starting a little late," said Aubrey Huff, who had two hits and two RBIs Sunday after totaling four hits and failing to drive in a run over his previous eight contests.

The Giants have won eight of their last 11 meetings with the similarly light-hitting Padres (63-84), who bat .239 as a team.

San Francisco took two of three at San Diego last week, but failed to complete the sweep with a 3-1 loss Wednesday as the offense sputtered against Aaron Harang.

Harang (13-5, 3.74 ERA) will take the mound again for the Padres in the opener of this three-game set after allowing one run and four hits in seven innings last week, improving to 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his last six starts versus San Francisco.

The right-hander is 6-1 in 10 road starts, but the loss came in the most recent outing Aug. 27, when he allowed three runs - two earned - in six innings of a 3-1 loss at Arizona.

The Padres have dropped 14 of 17 overall, but avoided a four-game sweep to Arizona by winning Sunday's series finale 7-6.

"We've got to stay positive," closer Heath Bell said. "We could have taken three out of four."

The Giants will give the ball to rookie left-hander Eric Surkamp (1-0, 3.27).

Surkamp, 24, earned his first career win last Tuesday, allowing three runs in five innings of a 6-4 win over the Padres hours after being recalled from Triple-A Fresno. The Giants have won both of his starts.

"It's fun," Surkamp said. "I'm up here, I'm new, it's awesome."

San Diego catcher Nick Hundley homered off Surkamp last week, and has six hits in his last three games. He went 3 for 4 Sunday, including a two-run homer.

A's lineup: Canha moves up, Pinder at DH against Yankees

A's lineup: Canha moves up, Pinder at DH against Yankees

The A's look to take down the Yankees in some early Saturday baseball. Manager Bob Melvin makes some changes to the order.

Oakland A's (22-25)

1. Rajai Davis (R) CF
2. Mark Canha (R) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Ryon Healy (R) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Chad Pinder (R) DH
8. Josh Phegley (R) C
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Jharel Cotton -- RHP

New York Yankees (27-18)

1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. Gary Sanchez (R) C
3. Matt Holliday (R) DH
4. Starlin Castro (R) 2B
5. Aaron Judge (R) RF
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
8. Chris Carter (R) 1B
9. Ronald Torreyes (R) 3B
CC Sabathia -- LHP

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”