Giants-Padres Preview

Manager Bruce Bochy is trying to find a spark to shake the San Francisco Giants out of their collective slump and end a three-game slide.

Bochy is expected to bench slumping Pablo Sandoval Sunday as the Giants continue trying to solve the San Diego Padres’ impressive pitching and avoid being swept in the finale of this three-game set at Petco Park.

San Francisco (10-8) is hitting .237 and averaging 4.1 runs, but it has been particularly poor at the plate during the skid. The Giants have scored only one run in each of those games, batting .158 while going 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

They were 0 for 9 in that scenario during Friday’s 2-1 loss to San Diego (9-9), and followed that by being limited to four hits in a 3-1 defeat a day later.

"We have so many good hitters struggling right now," Bochy said. "We didn’t create any chances, really. We didn’t get many good swings off. That’s what disappointed me (Saturday). You’d like to get some decent swings."

Bochy has called off batting practice for Sunday and is expected to leave Sandoval out of the lineup. The third baseman is a career .294 hitter, but he’s scuffling with a .171 average and is 1 for 11 over the past three games.

Michael Morse is 3 for 20 over the previous seven, but he may be poised to end that funk after hitting a homer Saturday. He has a .385 career batting average in 20 games against the Padres.

"The only way to get hits is to swing the bat," Morse said. "Right now, I don’t think we’re pressing. I don’t think we are trying to do anything out of the ordinary. I just think we hit a rough spot. Our team is too good for us to be stuck in this for too much longer."

The Padres are among baseball’s leaders with an overall 2.68 ERA, and the pitching staff has compiled a 1.93 mark while winning seven of the past 11 games. The starters alone have been solid during that stretch with 2.26 ERA.

"Right now we’re in a nice run of starting pitching," manager Bud Black said. "There’s been some solid work by our starters. Starting pitching is so important to a team’s success. They’re doing their part."

Robbie Erlin (1-1, 3.18 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball after struggling with his command during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Colorado. The left-hander allowed three runs and six hits with seven strikeouts in 4 2-3 innings.

"The second time through the lineup, I just felt myself trying to do too much, overthrowing," Erlin said.

Erlin didn’t get a decision in his only career meeting with the Giants on Sept. 3, yielding two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 home victory.

The Giants are expected to counter with Tim Lincecum (0-1, 7.20), who is looking to improve upon his latest outing.

The right-hander yielded his only run on a solo homer before leaving with five strikeouts in five innings of a 3-2 win in 12 over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

Despite his early exit, Lincecum’s performance was much better than his previous two outings, when he surrendered 11 runs and four homers with 12 strikeouts over 10 innings.

Lincecum is 7-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 starts at Petco Park, tossing a no-hitter in a 9-0 win on July 13. However, he struggled in his most recent visit Sept. 4, giving up five runs and two homers while being pulled with two outs in the sixth inning of a 13-5 defeat.