(Sports Network) -- The San Francisco Giants were able to come up with a long- awaited and much-needed victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday. Now the current National League West runner-ups will send out ace Tim Lincecum in hopes of winning this key three-game series between the two divisional foes that concludes this afternoon at AT&T Park.
The Giants were able to drew even in this set and close within 2 1/2 games on the Padres for first place in the division with a hard-fought extra-inning triumph yesterday afternoon. San Francisco scored in both the seventh and eighth frames to overcome an early two-run deficit, then earned a 3-2 win when Juan Uribe singled homeBuster Posey in the bottom of the 11th.
Buster began the Giants' half of the 11th with a double off Tim Stauffer (3-2) and following an intentional walk toPablo Sandoval, Uribe delivered a single to right that scored Posey and completed the comeback.
San Francisco had lost eight of their first nine games against the Padres this season, including all four bouts that had taken place at AT&T Park. San Diego edged the Giants by a 3-2 count in Friday's opener of this set.
"It's a big win," manager Bruce Bochy admitted on the Giants' official site. "It gets to the point where you start thinking about [the previous losses] too much. "[The Padres] have won a lot of these games, and three or four of them could have gone either way just like [Saturday]."
San Francisco seemed to be on its way to another setback after trailing 2-0 after six innings and standout Mat Latos on the hill for the Padres. However, Sandoval chased the San Diego starter with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh, and the Giants tied the contest when Mike Fontenot singled to start the bottom of the eighth, took second on Aubrey Huff's double, and scored on a Pat Burrell ground out.
Latos gave up just the one run and struck out nine without a walk over the first six-plus innings, but left after having thrown 108 pitches.
Youngster Madison Bumgarner was sharp as well for San Francisco, with the rookie permitting only two runs in seven innings to keep his team in the game.
Saturday's big win also kept the Giants in front in the NL Wild Card standings, where Bochy's squad currently holds a half-game edge on Cincinnati and leads Philadelphia by only one game in the race.
The Padres have so far been able to avoid a matchup with Lincecum this season, which may help explain their success against San Francisco. The reigning two- time NL Cy Young Award recipient has given San Diego fits in the past, having registered a stellar 1.67 earned run average over 11 all-time starts in this series. He's 4-2 lifetime against the Friars and has limited them to a .196 average in a combined 75 2/3 innings of work.
Lincecum does enter today's clash in a bit of a cold stretch, however. The slightly-built right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA over his last five starts and has lost his last two times out, including Tuesday's 8-6 setback to theChicago Cubs in which he was tagged for a season-high six runs and eight hits and lasted only four innings.
The All-Star hurler pitched significantly better in his prior defeat, holding Atlanta to three runs and fanning seven over 6 1/3 frames in a 3-2 loss to the Braves on August 5.
San Diego had a five-game win streak end with yesterday's defeat and will try to start another surge today behindWade LeBlanc, with the young lefty hoping to build off an encouraging performance in his last start. The Louisiana native matched a career high with eight strikeouts and yielded just one run over 5 2/3 innings to beat Pittsburgh this past Tuesday, only his second victory in his past 10 mound trips.
LeBlanc had surrendered four runs in 6 1/3 frames in each of his two previous assignments, losses to both Florida and Los Angeles, and had dropped six of his last seven decisions before besting the lowly Pirates. In fact, both of his lone two wins since mid-June have come against Pittsburgh.
The 26-year-old has fared well when facing the Giants over his brief big- league career, however, sporting a 2-0 record and an excellent 1.93 ERA in three lifetime starts against San Francisco. LeBlanc only managed to pitch 4 2/3 innings in a showdown with the Giants at AT&T Park back in May, though, allowing two runs and walking four batters in a no-decision.