SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants will take a bit of a worn-down bullpen into a rare double-header Saturday when they duel the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle two games of a four-game series at AT&T Park.
Five Giants relievers combined for 5 2/3 shutout innings in Friday's 6-4 win over the Dodgers in the series opener.
No one reliever threw more than 27 pitches, but four of the five were used for at least 20 on the eve of a double-header that figures to require more than the usual workload for each team's relief staff.
"It could have been worse," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after his team's fourth win in its last five games. "Sure, you'd like seven or eight innings (from starter Derek Holland) and have everyone fresh. But we just had a day off (Thursday), so all of (the relievers) should be available."
The double-header was necessitated by a rainout on April 6, the first such postponement in San Francisco in 12 years.
The onus will be on Game 1's two young starters, Walker Buehler of the Dodgers and Chris Stratton of the Giants, to ease the burden on the bullpen in case it's needed in the nightcap, which features a matchup of Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood against Giants righty Johnny Cueto.
Buehler (0-0, 0.00) made his major-league starting debut Monday against Miami, throwing five shutout innings in a 2-1 home win. He allowed four hits and three walks, striking out five.
The 23-year-old right-hander faced the Giants twice in relief as a rookie last season, allowing one run and four hits in two innings. He's 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in his career against San Francisco.
Buehler, considered the Dodgers' best pitching prospect, was demoted to Class A Rancho Cucamonga after Monday's outing to open a roster spot. But he'll be recalled Saturday when Major League Baseball allows teams to add a 26th player to the active roster for a double-header.
While his teammates were impressed with Buehler's 99-mph fastball, the pitcher likewise was impressed with his defense Monday.
"They don't do that very much in low-A ball," he said of some spectacular defense that allowed his shutout to continue. "These guys are really good."
The Giants also will be welcoming back their starting pitcher when Stratton (2-1, 2.32) is activated off the paternity list following the birth of his child this week.
The 27-year-old has faced the Dodgers twice already this month, allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings in Los Angeles in a 9-0 loss and giving up another three runs (two earned) in five innings in a 7-5 home win.
He's 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in five career appearances, including four starts, against the Dodgers.
The Giants started off their third consecutive series against the Dodgers with an unusual win, one that featured more than just good bullpen work.
San Francisco overcame a two-run deficit with a four-run seventh, an inning that began with a Brandon Belt bunt for a hit, and featured a balk on Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez that allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Baez stumbled on the mound, never letting go of the ball, while attempting a pitch to Joe Panik with runners at second and third.
The nightcap Saturday features a matchup of pitchers who combined for 24 wins last season.
Wood (0-2, 3.72) has gone 2-2 with a 4.36 ERA in his career against San Francisco. He will be making his seventh start against the Giants and 11th appearance overall against them.
Cueto (2-0, 0.35) is 6-8 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 3.22 ERA in 18 starts.