The Giants seem to enjoy facing the Diamondbacks on the road.
The same could be said of Hunter Pence. The right fielder will look to continue his success at Chase Field as the Giants and the D-backs meet in the series rubber match Sunday.
San Francisco (32-29) has won eight of 10 on the road against Arizona (35-27) after Saturday’s 10-5 victory. The NL West-leading D-backs took the opener of the three-game set 3-1 a day earlier.
Pence is batting .330 in Arizona for his highest average at any road venue with at least 40 at-bats. He also has seven homers and 22 RBIs in 25 games at Chase Field.
He came through again Saturday, connecting for a solo homer and scoring three times as the Giants avoided a third straight loss.
Pence’s aggressiveness on the base paths was key. He raced to first base to reach on a fielder’s choice, then took off for second. Once there, he sprinted toward third, stealing another base and inducing a throwing error that allowed him to score San Francisco’s first run.
“He’s trying to live up to that name ‘Full Throttle,'” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s a guy that the team feeds off his energy.”
That may continue since Pence has a .348 average over his last 12 games and is 2 for 2 with a grand slam against the Diamondbacks’ scheduled starter, young lefty Tyler Skaggs.
Pence’s production may be especially important if Pablo Sandoval is out after he left in the fourth inning Saturday with a left foot strain. The third baseman is a .358 hitter at Chase Field.
Chad Gaudin (1-1, 2.21 ERA) is slated to get a second turn in the rotation for the Giants with Ryan Vogelsong out with a broken right hand.
Gaudin was impressive in Sunday’s 4-2 win over the Cardinals, his first start since 2009 with the Yankees. The journeyman right-hander allowed two runs in six innings.
“He gave us a huge shot in the arm,” Bochy said.
Gaudin is starting against Arizona for the first time since July 8, 2009, with San Diego. He was charged with a 3-2 loss in his only meeting with the Diamondbacks this year, giving up an RBI double to Cody Ross in the top of the 10th on April 24.
Skaggs (1-0, 3.86) will make his third start while Brandon McCarthy remains on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
“We really have no other options,” manager Kirk Gibson told the team’s official website. “We’re not going to send him down and go get somebody else.”
Skaggs, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, was tagged for five runs and two homers in 5 2/3 innings but didn’t record a decision in Tuesday’s 7-6 win in St. Louis. He was much more impressive in his season debut eight days earlier, tossing six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in a 5-3 win over Texas.
The left-hander allowed five runs in four innings of a 6-2 loss in his only meeting with San Francisco last Sept. 14.
D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt has tied Luis Gonzalez’s 2002 team record by driving in at least one run in eight straight games. Of his league-leading 57 RBIs, 17 have come during that stretch.