D-backs try to bounce back against Vogelsong, Giants

The Diamondbacks have chosen a bad time to hit the skids offensively. They’ll look to get back on track against an improving Ryan Vogelsong and the visiting Giants on Saturday.

The D-backs, six games behind the Reds for the NL’s second wild card, have totaled a single run in back-to-back losses. They’ve left 18 runners on base in those two games and are 1 for their last 14 with runners in scoring position.

Arizona had runners on base in eight of nine frames of Friday’s 1-0 loss to San Francisco.

“If you want to win those games, you have to have better at-bats,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Miguel Montero, who struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning Friday, is 0 for his last 7 with runners in scoring position with three strikeouts.

The Diamondbacks (68-65) also traded away Jason Kubel, one of their biggest disappointments this season, on Friday after he’d been designated for assignment earlier in the week. Kubel was 14 for his last 99 (.141) with 39 strikeouts.

Arizona will try to avoid a prolonged offensive slump when it faces Vogelsong (3-4, 5.58 ERA), but that might not be easy. The right-hander was spectacular his last time out, surrendering two hits in eight scoreless innings of a 4-0 win in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

“That’s one of the best-pitched games we’ve had,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was fun to watch. He put on a show on the art of pitching. He was comfortable throwing any pitch at any time.”

Vogelsong has pitched very well since his return from a fractured right hand, posting a 2.55 ERA over four starts. He hasn’t given up a run over his last 12 innings.

“I thought I was settling in over my last four innings against the Red Sox (on Aug. 20), and I just stayed with what’s working,” Vogelsong said. “I didn’t throw the ball well before I got hurt and wasn’t finding anything comfortable. The goal is to finish strong and I feel like I’m on the way to that.”

The Diamondbacks, however, have had Vogelsong’s number of late.

Vogelsong has a 10.54 ERA over his last three starts in the series, failing to escape the fourth inning in two of those. On April 22, Arizona scored four runs off him- – including home runs by Eric Chavez and pitcher Wade Miley — in seven innings.

The D-backs are hoping six days’ rest is enough for Trevor Cahill after the right-hander pitched 11 innings in a three-day stretch. Cahill (5-10, 4.39) surrendered one run and four hits in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to the Reds on Aug. 22, then pitched four scoreless innings of relief in a 12-7 victory over the Phillies in 18 innings two days later.

Cahill had pitched very well against San Francisco – with a 2.52 ERA through his first eight starts — until June 8, when the Giants got to him for eight runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

The Giants (60-74) are 26-21 in games that Angel Pagan has played in this season. After missing more than three months with a strained right hamstring, he doubled in his first at-bat back Friday and scored the only run of the game.

Pagan has 31 runs in 46 games leading off for the Giants. They’ve gotten just 46 runs from the leadoff spot in the 88 games without Pagan at the top of the order.

“Good to have him back,” Bochy said. “It was a lift for the club. Although we got shut down with the bats, we did something we haven’t done a lot of, and that’s get an early run.”