(Sports Network) - Engaged in a battle for National League West bragging rights, the San Francisco Giants are counting on an upcoming homestand to bring them success. The residency starts with tonight's opener of a three-game series versus the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers from AT&T Park.
The Giants will also host Milwaukee for three games and currently sit just a half-game behind San Diego for the top spot in the division standings. San Francisco just went 7-3 on a 10-game road trip and closed out the trek by winning three of four meetings with San Diego.
In Sunday's 6-1 victory in the series finale from Petco Park, two-time defending NL Cy Young Award honoree Tim Lincecum outdueled Padres young ace Mat Latos by tossing seven innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts.Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson went the rest of the way to preserve the big victory.
"We fought hard the whole trip," said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. "We had three series' in three tough cities and it's a credit to all our guys."
Buster Posey hit a two-run homer and Lincecum added a two-run single for the Giants, who have to be cringing with Barry Zito scheduled to take the mound in this evening's series opener. Zito is only 1-10 with a 5.11 earned run average over his past 17 games (16 starts) and has been on the losing end in six consecutive games, five of which have been starts.
Zito was dealt the loss in last Wednesday's 3-1 loss at Arizona and was tagged for two runs and four hits in six innings. The outing dropped his record to 8-12 in 30 games (29 starts) to go along with a 4.14 ERA. The lefty and 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner lost to the Dodgers on September 3, when he allowed four runs in four innings of a 4-2 decision.
He is 6-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 18 career starts against Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are 10 1/2 games off the NL West lead and have lost seven of their last nine contests. They just split a four-game set at Houston and suffered a 7-4 loss in Sunday's series finale, as starting pitcher Carlos Monasterios lasted just 1 1/3 innings and surrendered four runs -- three earned -- and five hits for the no-decision.
Ramon Troncoso allowed two runs in two innings of relief to absorb the loss for Los Angeles, which got a three-run homer from Jay Gibbons. The outfielder has five homers and 15 RBI since being called up from Triple-A in early August.
"He gets a good at-bat, even against the left-handers," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Gibbons. "He has a plan."
Torre hopes young starter Clayton Kershaw has a plan on gaining back his consistency when he toes the rubber Tuesday night. Kershaw is 0-3 in his last four starts and has dropped five of his last six decisions. He pitched well enough for the win in last Tuesday's 2-1 setback at San Diego, but was dealt the loss for giving up both runs through seven innings.
Kershaw had his 2010 record to drop 11-10 in 29 trips to the mound.
The left-hander is 0-1 in three starts against the Giants this season and lost to them on August 1. Kershaw is 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Giants.
San Francisco has won eight of 15 meetings with Los Angeles this season and is 5-1 in the six most recent contests in this series.