Giants-Marlins Preview

Although they’ve been more often on the short end of an all-or-nothing offense, the San Francisco Giants have been on the positive side the last two games to move back into first place.

Maintaining that production, however, could be difficult given Henderson Alvarez’s track record at Marlins Park.

The Giants will try to stay on top in the NL West as they look to win three in a row for the first time in more than a month Saturday night against Alvarez and the struggling Miami Marlins.

San Francisco (53-43) has averaged 6.0 runs with 10 home runs in its seven victories while scoring 0.9 runs per game with only two homers over its 11 losses since June 26.

The Giants, though, have enjoyed their biggest scoring outbursts during that stretch in their last two games. After hitting two homers in Sunday’s 8-4 win over Arizona, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford homered in Friday’s 9-1 win at Miami (44-51).

Buster Posey and Michael Morse added three hits apiece as San Francisco collected 13 hits for its highest total since June 18. Morse is 10 for 19 in the season series, while Sandoval is hitting .455 with 10 RBIs over his last eight matchups.

”Good to see everybody playing like that,” winning pitcher Madison Bumgarner said. ”I guess everybody had a good All-Star break.”

After moving back into a tie atop the NL West following the Los Angeles Dodgers’ loss in St. Louis, the Giants might have a tougher time as they go after their longest win streak since a five-game run from June 4-8.

Alvarez (6-4, 2.73 ERA) has been outstanding at Marlins Park, going 4-0 with 1.19 ERA in his last eight starts – all Miami victories. His 1.56 ERA at home ranks second in the majors behind Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran’s 1.23.

After going 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA over a nine-start stretch, the right-hander suffered his first loss in two months July 11 when he allowed a season-high six earned runs over five innings in a 7-1 road loss to the New York Mets.

"I’d like for all my starts to be like the (9) before," Alvarez told MLB’s official website. "But there are going to be good days and bad days. I have to keep my head up and move on."

Alvarez hasn’t fared well in two career outings versus San Francisco, going 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA. He did not factor in the decision May 16 when he gave up five runs – four earned – and 10 hits over six innings in a 7-5 road win.

San Francisco’s Tim Hudson (7-6, 2.87) has gone 0-4 with a 6.07 ERA in his last five starts after giving up six runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 6-1 home loss to Oakland on July 10.

The right-hander hopes to bounce back in South Florida, where he’s 10-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 14 career outings. He’s also won five consecutive starts overall against the Marlins dating to his time with Atlanta.

Hudson has done a nice job against All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who is 3 for 15 with five strikeouts in the matchup. Stanton ranks among NL leaders with 22 homers after hitting his first in 16 games Friday in Miami’s fifth straight defeat.

The Marlins have totaled 13 runs while going 5 for 45 (.111) with runners in scoring position over their last seven games. They haven’t dropped six in a row since an eight-game skid in April.