SAN FRANCISCO -- Between two six-game East Coast road trips, the Giants were gifted a break for the All-Star Game and a home series with the Houston Astros. They did what they had to and went 4-0, clinching home field advantage in the World Series and drop kicking the Astros down to San Diego with their 13th consecutive loss away from home.
RECAP: Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Astros 2
Coupled with a pair of weekend losses for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants moved into first place in the N.L. West. But they'll need to remain focused for all 73 remaining games; it's a race that everyone in the clubhouse is expecting to go down to the wire.
"We have to show we can play on the East Coast," Bochy said. "We got slammed pretty good on the last one."
Slammed to the tune of a 1-5 record, yes they did.
"Those were two really hot teams," Affeldt said of the Pirates and Nationals, without consciously bringing the warm weather into the conversation.
Their upcoming trip pits them against equally hot, and traditionally more dangerous, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
The Braves are riding a seven-game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents 43-22. And they'll be well rested, on the heels of a day off.
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The Phillies, while they are scuffling through their worst season in recent memory -- playing the N.L. East doormat -- just took two of three in Colorado and could get a boost from the return of Cy Young pitcher Roy Halladay on Tuesday.
"This is a big road trip coming up," Buster Posey said.
Against such foes, Bochy knows the team will need more than the three-run outputs with ten-plus runners left on base, as they have achieved in each of their last two wins against Houston.
"We're going to have to turn it up a notch with this offense, to get this done."
Hoping on Huff
After alluding to an imminent activation before Sunday's game, Bochy backtracked on Aubrey Huff's progress.
"I just felt he needs a few more games," Bochy said. "I want to make sure he's ready. When players come back, they need to be ready -- fully ready. There's not a break-in period.
"Aubrey agreed. A few more games playing first base would benefit him. And it should benefit us in the long run."
From the sound of it, it appears Bochy has every intention of bringing Huff back and playing him at first base.
While Belt seemed to make Huff -- and Brett Pill -- expendable during his torrential 11-game hitting streak from June 12-23, the young first baseman is just 8-for-his-last-46 (.173) since.
The plan is for Huff to report to Triple-A Fresno on Monday, after going 4-for-16 (.250) in five rehab games with Single-A San Jose. After a few more games playing in the field, when Huff is "fully ready," he'll be back.
Aaand, stay out
AT&T Park has not been kind to Houston Astros with Bay Area ties this year, and there are a number of them.
Marin county native Bud Norris faced the Giants in each of the Astros' two AT&T Park series. His first outing lasted just 3 13 innings when he was forced out of the game -- and onto the DL -- with a sprained knee. Sunday, Norris made it through six innings but was again tagged with the loss.
Castro Valley native and former Stanford Cardinal Jason Castro went 1-for-8 with and RBI in the first series, and missed this series with an injury.
Jed Lowrie, who also played collegiately at Stanford, went 0-for-10 with a run in the first series. He was 1-for-5 in this series before Gregor Blanco slid into his ankle at second base -- on a clean play -- and dropped Lowrie in writhing pain.
Castro and Lowrie were each placed on the disabled list Sunday.
First baseman Brett Wallace, who grew up in Sonoma, was sent down after he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Matt Cain's perfect game and hasn't made it back to the majors yet.