(Sports Network) - The San Francisco Giants will be vying to build off a big win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday when the two postseason contenders continue an intriguing three-game series from AT&T Park this evening.
The Giants entered this important set having lost five times in a seven-game span, but the team was able to gain some ground in the playoff chase with a lopsided victory over the National League Central-leading Reds last night. San Francisco pounded out 17 hits and erupted for five runs in the first inning en route to an 11-2 rout which moved the club within one game of Philadelphia's lead atop the league's wild card standings.
Aubrey Huff began the opening-inning outburst with a two-run double and finished 3-for-4 with three RBI. Pablo Sandoval also collected three hits and knocked in three runs on the evening, while Freddy Sanchez went 4-for-5 with two RBI to help his team to the much-needed triumph.
"We need consistency and that's something that we're trying to get clicking here offensively," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the game. "It's going to be a key to our season, we know it, but it's a good start."
Giants starter Matt Cain (10-10) did his part as well, limiting the heavy- hitting Reds to two runs and five hits while registering seven strikeouts over eight strong innings.
Cain badly outpitched Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez (3-2), who failed to make it out of the first inning. The right-hander was rocked for five runs on five hits and walked three batters while recording only two outs.
The Reds didn't do much at the plate as well, mustering only five hits off Cain and reliever Javier Lopez. Scott Rolen accounted for the club's lone scoring with a two-run triple in the third inning.
Cincinnati, which had won five of its first six tests on its current nine-game West Coast trip, had its lead atop the NL Central trimmed to 2 1/2 games after second-place St. Louis defeated Pittsburgh on Monday.
"The main thing is for nobody to panic, it's one game," Reds manager Dusty Baker said following last night's result. "You want to win every game, but at this point we're 5-2 on this road trip. We still have two games left, so we have a chance to have a very good road trip."
Cincinnati may also have a very good chance at a win tonight if rookie Travis Wood can keep up his strong pitching as of late. The young lefty has ripped off four consecutive winning starts -- all of which have come on the road -- and surrendered two runs or less in three of those outings.
Wood ran his season record to 4-1 after holding Arizona to a run and just four hits while striking out six over 6 1/3 effective innings last Thursday in Phoenix. The effort lowered the 23-year-old's earned run average to 2.51 over nine major league starts, and opposing hitters are batting a mere .176 against him.
This will be the first-ever encounter against the Giants for Wood, who's 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in eight starts on the road this year.
Jonathan Sanchez will take the ball for San Francisco this evening and hopes to duplicate an excellent effort against the Phillies this past Thursday. The southpaw permitted just one run and two hits while racking up seven strikeouts versus the two-time defending NL champs, leading the Giants to a key 5-2 win and upping his 2010 record to 9-8.
Sanchez had lost two straight starts prior to Thursday's gem and was also dealt a defeat by the Reds earlier this season. That took place in Cincinnati back on June 9, with the Puerto Rico native reached for three runs over a five-inning stint.
The 27-year-old had won both of his previous two encounters with the Reds and sports a 2.41 ERA over 18 2/3 career innings against Cincinnati.
The Reds had prevailed in four of their past six visits to San Francisco and split a four-game set with the Giants in Cincinnati back in June.