(Sports Network) - The San Francisco Giants are still fighting for the top spot in the National League West Division. An upcoming four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks could help with that quest.
The Giants, who are four games behind the NL West-leading San Diego Padres, will kick off a four-game set tonight in Phoenix and will try to rebound from last night's 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Barry Zitosuffered the hard-luck loss in the finale of a three-game set at Chavez Ravine and was reached for both runs and six hits over 7 1/3 innings.
"I didn't have it the first three innings," Zito said. "Giving up the homer to [Casey] Blake was frustrating. I settled down after that."
Freddy Sanchez had two of San Francisco's five hits and Buster Posey extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games after going 1-for-4.
The Giants have still won 11 of their last 14 games, but need to work on their 11-21 ledger against division opponents.
Streaky Giants starter Matt Cain will handle pitching duties for the 20th time this season tonight and is just 7-8 with a 3.30 earned run average in 19 starts. After winning four straight starts over a month ago, Cain fell into a slump and went 0-4 with a 7.45 ERA in five starts from June 19-July 9.
Cain, however, bounced back in Saturday's 8-4 triumph over the visiting New York Mets by tossing seven innings of one-run ball and allowing four hits.
The right-hander is only 2-5 in 10 road starts this season, but shut out Arizona the last time he faced them on May 28. He went the distance in that game, which took place in San Francisco, and yielded one hit with nine strikeouts in improving to 5-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 15 career starts versus the D-Backs.
Cain owns two shutouts and three complete games this season.
Arizona enters this series with some added confidence after sweeping the visiting Mets in three games at Chase Field. It entered the series having lost four in a row, but bounced back in a huge way with a 13-2 win in the opener of the set. The D'Backs then won by a 3-2 score on Tuesday and are coming off last night's 4-3 victory in 14 innings.
Pinch-hitter Chris Snyder singled home Justin Upton for the game-winning run in the 14th frame, while Rusty Ryal ended 4-for-5 with a home run. Chris Young and Mark Reynolds also went deep for Arizona, which got three hits and a run scored from Upton.
Dan Haren started for Arizona and gave up three runs and six hits with eight strikeouts in six innings for the no-decision. The D'Backs had lost each of Haren's last six starts. Blaine Boyer got the win with two scoreless innings of relief.
"He threw well, but unfortunately we got into a deadlock there," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said of Haren. "He went as far as I would let him go."
The Diamondbacks, who are last in the NL West, will hand the ball to Rodrigo Lopez tonight, and he is 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA in his last five starts. He lost his most recent mound appearance in an 8-5 decision at San Diego on Saturday, as he permitted six runs and six hits over six innings.
Lopez, who has given up a total of 11 runs over his last three starts, fell to 5-8 with a 4.62 ERA in 19 total trips to the mound this season. He is 3-4 in 10 home starts and will face San Francisco for the second time in 2010. Lopez was reached for six runs and 10 hits in five innings of an 8-7 loss to the Giants back on May 20 and is 0-1 in three career starts versus San Francisco.
San Francisco leads the 2010 season series with Arizona by a slim 3-2 margin, but is 16-7 over the past 23 meetings between the two ballclubs.