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Friday, July 22, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers vs San Francisco Giants Preview

Milwaukee Brewers (53-47) at San Francisco Giants (57-42), 10:15 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Milwaukee - Shaun Marcum (8-3, 3.39) San Francisco - Matt Cain (8-5, 2.99) 

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With the July 31 trade deadline looming, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he will go to battle with this current group of guys. And who could blame him after this similar corps captured a World Series title a year ago?
"Right now, these are my guys," Bochy said. "They're doing quite well, and if this is the last move, then we'll go to battle with these guys. I think they've done a nice job."
There are some intriguing names being thrown around as trade bait, in particular New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran. Bochy's club, however, looks to remain focused Friday in the opener of a three-game series versus the heavy-hitting Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park.
The Giants had a three-game winning streak stopped in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to rival Los Angeles in the finale of a three-game set, as Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw stymied San Francisco with a season-high 12 strikeouts over eight innings.
Kershaw improved his career record versus San Francisco to 4-1 in 10 games -- nine starts -- while lowering his earned run average to 1.41. He has given up only 12 runs to the Giants over 63 2/3 innings. His performance left an impression on Bochy.
"I've seen it before. Even with our guys healthy, he has shut us out. Not once, either. He's tough," Bochy said. "Kershaw's been tough on us. He was superb. You just tip your cap."
Chris Stewart led the Giants with a team-best two hits and Pablo Sandoval was held out of the lineup because of a sore right quadriceps. Sandoval's streak of consecutive games reaching base at 27 came to an end, but he is expected to be back in the lineup in the series opener with Milwaukee. Sandoval was relegated to a pinch-hit role in the recent loss and is hitting .313 with nine homers and 34 RBI for the NL West-leading Giants, who have won nine of their last 12 games and lead the division by four games ahead of the Diamondbacks. Despite losing to the Dodgers, San Francisco is still a dominant 27-15 within division play.
San Francisco did add a fresh face to the clubhouse in infielder Jeff Keppinger, who pinch-hit in the seventh inning versus Los Angeles and flied out to left field in his only at-bat. Keppinger was recently traded from the Houston Astros to the Bay area.
Giants ace and two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum failed to pitch his team to a seventh straight win over the Dodgers and was outdueled by Kershaw. Lincecum saw his 2011 record dip to 8-8 after he tossed seven innings of one-run ball and allowed five hits, including Dioner Navarro's home run in the seventh inning. Lincecum had not allowed a home run in seven straight contests and has received only 12 runs of support over his previous nine outings.
San Francisco has scored four runs in each of Matt Cain's last two starts and the big right-hander will begin this series on the hill. Barry Zito was supposed to get the start but Bochy pushed him back for Cain. In a 4-3 win at San Diego on Sunday, Cain did not record a decision and yielded three runs -- one earned -- and three hits with nine strikeouts. Cain is 8-5 with a 2.99 earned run average in 20 starts and has won five of his past six decisions. He is 5-2 in nine trips to the AT&T Park mound this season.
Cain lost at Milwaukee back on May 29 and was reached for five runs and 11 hits over six innings of his team's 6-0 setback. Cain is 2-4 lifetime with a lofty 4.73 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers and is counting on getting more support from a Giants squad that has scored four or more runs in six of its last eight contests.
After the Giants close out their homestand on Sunday, they will head east to square off with the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. The Giants and Phillies haven't met since San Francisco punched its ticket to last year's World Series with an NLCS triumph.
The Brewers, who are tied with Pittsburgh atop the NL Central standings, won two of three matchups with San Francisco at Miller Park from May 27-29 and are 4-2 in the previous six contests in this series.
Milwaukee took two of three games at AT&T Park last Sept. 17-19 and received wins from starting pitchers Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo -- two hurlers expected to take the Bay area hill this time around.
Shaun Marcum will toe the rubber in Friday's series opener and is 8-3 with a 3.39 earned run average in 20 starts in his first season with Milwaukee. He started his first stint with the Brewers 6-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 10 starts, but is just 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA over the past 10 outings. He got back into the win column with Sunday's 4-3 victory at Colorado, where he held the Rockies to two runs and four hits over five innings before leaving with a strained neck.
"I think I landed a little awkward," Marcum said after the game. "It's a little stiff right now, but I don't think it's anything to be too alarmed about. We'll keep doing our treatment, and I'll be ready to go next time out."
Marcum, a right-hander, lost to the Giants in a 5-4 decision back on May 27 in Brew City, as he was reached for five runs and six hits in six innings. Marcum has faced San Francisco just twice, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA. In his first appearance against the Giants on June 20, 2010 as a member of Toronto, Marcum did not record a decision after he gave up two runs -- one earned -- and four hits in five innings of work.
He won't have Carlos Gomez in his corner any time soon after the center fielder suffered a fractured clavicle in Wednesday's 5-2 win in 10 innings against the Diamondbacks.
The Brewers are 4-4 on an 11-game road trip and lost for just the second time in six tries with Thursday's 4-0 loss to Arizona in the finale of a four-game series at Chase Field. Zack Greinke allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings for the loss and struck out seven batters. Yuniesky Betancourt had a team-high two hits in defeat.
"You're disappointed when you think you're playing pretty good and then you come out and get shut out," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I'm glad we've won some games on the trip, but when you think about this game, it's hard to be happy about what happened the last few days."


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