Before the San Francisco Giants can focus on a key series with the team their chasing in the NL West, they would like to first avoid being swept in San Diego.
The wild-card leading Giants hope to end their current offensive struggles Sunday by getting the best of the Padres' Ian Kennedy for the second time season.After being held to three hits during Friday's 5-0 loss, San Francisco (84-70) didn't score until the ninth inning when it stranded runners on first and third in a 3-2 defeat.One game ahead of Pittsburgh for the wild-card lead, the Giants are in serious need of a victory Sunday before opening a three-game road series with the West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.San Francisco trails its playoff-bound archrival by 3 1/2 games in the division."These are two tough losses at this time of year," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's nothing we can do but come out (Sunday) ready and focused."The Giants have totaled 12 runs while losing five of seven to follow a four-game winning streak during which they averaged 6.3.Buster Posey had two hits and Hunter Pence homered for the Giants, who have lost eight of 12 at Petco Park.Posey is 14 for 33 with three doubles against Kennedy (11-13, 3.80 ERA), who allowed four runs and nine hits but also struck out eight over 6 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss at San Francisco on June 25.The right-hander has yielded three runs over six innings each while splitting his last two outings overall. All the runs he gave up Tuesday came off two homers in a 5-4 victory over Philadelphia.He'll be opposed by Ryan Vogelsong (8-11, 3.98), who makes his first start versus San Diego (73-81) this season trying to improve on a 1/3 record and 7.63 ERA as a starter at Petco.That might not bode well for the right-hander, who is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last three home starts but 0-3 with a 7.65 ERA in his last four on the road.Vogelsong gave up two hits in 6 2/3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-0 home win over Arizona on Sept. 10, then allowed a grand slam to Mark Trumbo and walked four in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-2 road defeat to the Diamondbacks on Monday."You take away that pitch, and it's a pretty good outing," Bochy told MLB's official website.Jedd Gyorko and Yasmani Grandal are each 3 for 6 with two doubles versus Vogelsong.With an 0-for-4 performance Saturday, Gyorko saw a 10-game hitting streak in which he batted .324 come to an end.Teammate Will Venable is 1 for 31 with nine strikeouts in his last nine games versus San Francisco, but is 7 for 16 against Vogelsong.San Francisco won't have Angel Pagan (back) or Michael Morse (oblique) for a second straight contest Sunday, and both remain questionable to face the Dodgers."You'd like to be healthy and at full strength down the stretch," Bochy said. "But we have to focus forward. That's all you can do."