If they want to play with the division title potentially at stake next week, the San Francisco Giants will first have to take care of their own business in San Diego this weekend.
Tim Hudson is likely anxious to take the mound as he looks to rebound from one of the worst outings of his career.Ahead of their critical series at Chavez Ravine, the wild card-leading Giants will try to move closer to the division lead Friday night when they open a three-game set against the Padres.San Francisco (84-68) took two of three in Arizona to begin this key nine-game trip with Wednesday's 4-2 victory.Brandon Crawford had a career high-tying four hits, while rookie Matt Duffy delivered a pinch-hit two-run single in the top of the ninth inning. Crawford has been on a roll, going 11 for 20 with seven RBIs over his last six contests.The Giants, who have a healthy lead in the wild-card standings, narrowed the gap in the NL West before the Dodgers pushed the advantage to 2 1/2 games over idle San Francisco with Thursday's 8-4 win at Wrigley Field."The scoreboard here is right in front of you," Bochy said of chasing the Dodgers, who host the Giants starting Monday. "Now we've got three big games in San Diego and that's where our focus is going to be."Hudson (9-11, 3.41 ERA) will try to move past his last start Saturday when he was roughed up for six runs on eight hits in a career-low one inning in a 17-0 home loss to the Dodgers.It was the first time the All-Star had been knocked out of a game before two innings since giving up seven runs over 1 2/3 in a 14-2 loss at Boston in April 2000. He also fell to 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA in his last three starts."They got on a little roll in the first inning," he told MLB's official website. "It was challenging for me to get that third out."The right-hander has certainly fared better against the Padres (71-81), going 7-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 16 career starts. He's 1-2 with a 2.96 mark while allowing two runs or less in three of his four meetings in this season.Will Venable hit a three-run home run Thursday, while Alexi Amarista had a solo shot as the Padres took three of four from Philadelphia with a 7-3 victory. Amarista is 6 for 11 with two homers and five RBIs in his last three games and 5 for 9 with a double versus Hudson.Odrisamer Despaigne (3-7, 3.63) has allowed 12 runs and 14 hits over 10 innings while dropping his last two starts on the road, though he's 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in his seven at home.The rookie right-hander also has given up just one run over 13 innings in two meetings with the Giants. He opposed Hudson at home in July, surrendering one run and two hits over six in that extra-inning defeat.San Francisco's Angel Pagan could return after missing the past three games due to a bulging disk in his back, while slugger Michael Morse is also close to returning from a strained left oblique.The NL West rivals have split 12 meetings this season, including six at Petco Park.