Mets-Giants Preview

The San Francisco Giants are looking to create some breathing

room in the tight NL West race, and the addition of Hunter Pence

may help them do that.

Giving the ball to Matt Cain at home could also provide a

boost.

Pence might be in the Giants lineup for the first time Wednesday

night when Cain attempts to continue his home success against the

New York Mets.

San Francisco (56-47) leads the West by one game over Los

Angeles, with third-place Arizona lurking 3 1/2 back.

Trying to gain some separation, the Giants acquired Pence from

Philadelphia in exchange for Nate Schierholtz and two minor

leaguers prior to Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Pence is

batting .271 with 17 homers and 59 RBIs this season, and provides

some much-needed power for a Giants team that ranks last in the

majors with 62 homers.

“He gives us another bat in the heart of the order and something

we need. It’s always great to have a chance and bring somebody like

Hunter Pence’s caliber in,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I got a

chance to spend some time around him at the All-Star game last

year. Great guy. Fun to watch. Fans are going to love him. He’s

around all the time.

“He loves the game and it shows.”

Pence, who has a .329 average and five homers in 20 games at

AT&T Park, will help replace the injured Pablo Sandoval

(hamstring) in the lineup and presumably bat fifth behind fellow

outfielder Melky Cabrera and catcher Buster Posey.

Cain (10-3, 2.80 ERA) won’t mind having another strong offensive

presence in the lineup. He has a 2.11 ERA in his last 13 home

starts dating back to last season, and he might be better than 6-2

in that stretch if not for some spotty run support.

The Giants scored only one run while he was in the game Friday,

when the right-hander allowed three runs in seven innings of a 5-3,

10-inning loss to the Dodgers.

Cain has won each of his last three home starts against the Mets

behind a 0.95 ERA.

The Giants have won seven of 10 at home versus New York after

Tuesday’s 4-1 victory. That snapped an overall losing streak that

had reached a season-high five games when they dropped the opener

of this four-game set 8-7 in 10 innings a day prior.

The Mets have lost 15 of 19, including each of Jonathon Niese’s

last four starts. Niese (7-5, 3.86) is 0-2 with a 5.67 ERA in that

stretch after going 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his previous eight

outings.

The left-hander takes the mound after struggling greatly Friday,

matching his career high by surrendering eight runs in six innings

of an 11-5 loss at Arizona. He also committed a throwing error that

scored two of the six runs in the second.

“One of the reasons I left him in is I wanted him to work a

little bit,” manager Terry Collins said. “I wanted to see if he

could get himself into a little bit of a feel, a rhythm, get his

release point back and get into sync so he could leave feeling

better about himself than he did after the second inning.”

Niese is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against San

Francisco. He allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings of a

4-3, 10-inning home loss to the Giants on April 20.