Marlins-Giants Preview

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows his lineup has to
continue to improve, but right now, he can’t complain about how
it’s performing in the clutch.

Looking to match a season high with their sixth straight
victory, the NL West-leading Giants will try to extend their
longest home winning streak in seven seasons to 10 on Tuesday night
when they face the Florida Marlins.

San Francisco (27-19) failed to score more than four runs
through nine innings for the 16th time in 17 games Sunday, but the
defending World Series champions beat Oakland 5-4 in 11 innings to
win their fifth in a row.

“Right now we’re starting to swing the bats better, but until we
get this offense clicking, it’s going to be vital for us to have
the pitchers throwing the ball the way they are,” Bochy told the
team’s official website.

While their starters have strung together 15 straight games
without giving up more than three earned runs, the Giants also have
come through at the plate when it matters most. They improved to
11-0 at home in one-run games Sunday when Emmanuel Burriss singled
home Darren Ford for the deciding run – the team’s seventh walkoff
win.

San Francisco has won 14 of 18 overall, including a nine-game
home winning streak which is its longest since a 9-0 stretch May
25-June 17, 2004.

Giving the ball to Matt Cain (3-2, 3.28 ERA) could help San
Francisco inch closer to its longest undefeated stretch at its
11-year-old waterfront ballpark, an 11-game run July 7-25, 2003.
He’s 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last six starts there – three this
season and three in last year’s playoffs.

The right-hander did not earn a decision Wednesday, but he
struck out a season-high seven and pitched into the eighth inning
for a second consecutive start in an 8-5 victory over the Los
Angeles Dodgers.

Cain has allowed more than three runs just once in nine starts
this year and has never done so in seven outings versus Florida,
going 3-0 with a 2.98 ERA.

The Marlins (26-19) begin a nine-game trip with right-hander
Ricky Nolasco (3-0, 3.32) looking to continue his dominance in San
Francisco. The Southern California native is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in
two starts at AT&T Park and threw the only shutout of his
career there Aug. 19, 2008.

“I’ve just been able to go there and make pitches,” he told the
Marlins’ official website. “Obviously, they are a good team built
around their pitching. They have been playing good as of late, so
I’m just going out and try to do the same thing and make
pitches.”

If Nolasco struggles, manager Edwin Rodriguez can turn to a
bullpen which is among the league’s best with a 2.64 ERA. Florida’s
relievers threw six shutout innings and struck out a season-best
eight in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

Marlins pitching has held Buster Posey to three hits in 15
at-bats, all during the teams’ last series – a four-game split July
26-29 in San Francisco. The reigning NL rookie of the year, who is
1 for 3 against Nolasco, enters this three-game set on an 11-game
hitting streak during which he’s batting .390.

Florida’s Logan Morrison will try to reach base safely for the
25th straight game after drawing a two-out, ninth-inning walk
Sunday. In his major league debut, Morrison singled off Cain for
his first big-league hit in a 6-4 loss July 27.

Cain lasted seven innings in that game, surrendering three runs
while not earning a decision.

This will be the first game against the Marlins for outfielder
Cody Ross, whom the Giants claimed off waivers from Florida on Aug.
22. Ross played a key role in San Francisco’s playoff run and was
named MVP of the NL championship series.