Giants-Pirates Preview

The San Francisco Giants aren’t hitting the ball well or getting
the job done on the mound. The defending World Series champions
hope an eastern swing can help them get back on track.

The Giants try to snap their season-high four-game losing streak
Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates as they begin a
10-game trip.

Mired in its longest skid since an 0-7 stretch from June 26-July
2, San Francisco (10-11) has plenty to fix as it opens this
three-game set. Not only are the Giants batting .194 and averaging
2.8 runs during their losing streak, the team’s starters – second
in the NL last season with a 3.54 ERA – have a 7.71 ERA in the last
four games.

San Francisco walked a season-high seven in Sunday’s 9-6,
10-inning loss to Atlanta and surrendered 16 free passes in three
games while getting swept in a rematch of last season’s NL division
series.

“We are walking way too many guys, there’s no way around that,”
manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants’ official website.

That hasn’t been a major problem for Matt Cain (2-1, 3.42 ERA),
who has 16 strikeouts and six walks in four starts. The
right-hander, though, has plenty to improve Tuesday when he looks
to bounce back from his worst outing of the season.

After allowing a combined three runs in his first three starts,
Cain gave up six runs and nine hits in Wednesday’s 10-2 loss at
Colorado. He lasted just 4 2-3 innings and his ERA rose two full
runs.

“(My stuff) was fine. Just definitely the big hit (a three-run
homer) by (Ty) Wigginton kind of put a damper on things and put our
guys in a big hole,” Cain said. “That’s not something I wanted to
do.”

Cain is 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA in seven starts against
Pittsburgh.

He will face a Pirates team that took two of three from
Washington to open its homestand. Brandon Wood, acquired off
waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, had a two-run double
in his Pirates debut and Paul Maholm struck out eight in seven
innings to help Pittsburgh (10-12) win 4-2 on Monday.

The Pirates will look for another strong start Tuesday when
Charlie Morton (2-1, 3.33) gets a chance to rebound from a rough
outing. The right-hander, who gave up four total earned runs in his
first three starts, surrendered six and a career-high-tying 10 hits
in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss at Florida.

“They were just hitting my slider,” Morton said. “It wasn’t
sinking.”

Morton, who has 12 strikeouts and 15 walks this season, is 1-3
with a 3.96 ERA in four starts against the Giants.

Morton has allowed just one hit in nine matchups with Pablo
Sandoval, but the Giants’ third baseman could give him problems.
After hitting just .268 with 13 homers in 2010, a slimmer Sandoval
is batting .319 with five home runs – four in his last nine games –
and 13 RBIs.

“Right now I feel great,” he said. “I’m hitting the ball well
right-handed. I’m just trying to be more patient at home plate.
It’s just one month.”

He is a .344 hitter in 15 games against Pittsburgh.

Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, 5 for 8 in the last two
games, scored four times and had four hits in 10 at-bats as
Pittsburgh dropped two of three June 4-6 in the Giants’ last visit
to PNC Park. Walker has never faced Cain.