Giants-Padres Preview

As they embark on their final road trip of the season, the San Francisco Giants hope they’ll still have something to play for when they return home.

The defending World Series champions begin a six-game trek Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres faced with the possibility of being eliminated from postseason contention prior to next week’s series with NL West-leading Los Angeles. San Francisco (78-71) hosts its archrival next Monday after three games against the Padres and three in Oakland.

"Right now we’re in a situation that every single game counts," outfielder Angel Pagan said.

Tim Hudson’s six scoreless innings and Buster Posey’s three-run homer enabled the Giants to gain ground on the Dodgers with Sunday’s 5-1 win over Arizona. Posey’s shot capped a four-run sixth and ended a string of 24 consecutive scoreless innings for San Francisco.

"It was good to see us break out," manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Giants had little trouble producing offense when they last faced San Diego (70-80), scoring 27 runs during a three-game home sweep Sept. 11-13. They’ve won five straight and seven of the past eight meetings.

San Francisco did not face Tyson Ross (10-10, 3.18 ERA) in that series, however. The Padres’ most consistent pitcher this season has been very good of late, posting a 1.73 ERA over a four-start stretch.

Ross has gone 1-3 in seven home starts since the All-Star break despite a 2.78 ERA, getting 15 runs of support in that stretch. He exited with a lead in the Padres’ 6-4 loss at Arizona last Tuesday, yielding a run and four hits with nine strikeouts in six innings.

The right-hander had won three straight starts against San Francisco prior to a 2-0 road loss May 4 in which he gave up two runs in seven innings. Ross struck out eight Giants and allowed three runs across six innings in a 6-4 win at Petco Park on April 12.

San Diego’s 3-6 trip ended on a positive note with Sunday’s 10-4 win over Colorado. Matt Kemp broke out of a 2-for-25 slump with three hits and had one of his team’s four home runs as the Padres scored in each of the first six innings.

”We were driving the ball and hit a few balls out of the park early,” said left fielder Justin Upton, who had three hits and three RBIs. ”We just kept adding on runs.”

Cory Spangenberg also homered and is 4 for 7 against the struggling Chris Heston (11-10, 3.61), who’s 0-5 with a 5.12 ERA in eight starts since beating Milwaukee on July 27 for his last win.

San Francisco has lost Heston’s last seven outings, the most recent a 9-8 defeat to Cincinnati last Tuesday in which the rookie struck out eight and surrendered three runs in five innings. He didn’t get the decision.

Heston was brilliant in his lone Petco Park start, giving up only an Upton single and two walks over 7 1-3 innings of a 9-3 victory July 21. He’s 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Padres this year.

The Giants lead the season series 10-6 but have lost four of seven in San Diego.