(Sports Network) - Winning series is what gets teams to the postseason and lately that's what the San Francisco Giants have been able to do. The playoff- hopeful club looks to make it five straight series victories tonight in the finale of a three-game set versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park.
The Giants will also shoot for their fourth straight series triumph over the National League West-rival Dodgers after evening this set with Thursday's 2-1 win behind Matt Cain's seven shutout innings of three-hit ball and five strikeouts. Sergio Romo tossed a scoreless eighth before Brian Wilson ran into some trouble in the ninth inning. The closer allowed a home run, but managed to record his 43rd save.
Mike Fontenot's RBI single in the seventh inning opened the scoring and Pablo Sandoval plated Aubrey Huff in the eighth on a fielder's choice. Buster Posey and Juan Uribe each had two hits.
"We'd like to get some more runs, especially since our pitchers have really been pitching well," Fontenot said. "But sometimes you have to grind them out like this."
San Francisco has grinded San Diego's lead atop the NL West down to just a half-game, the same distance it sits behind Atlanta in the wild card standings. The Giants haven't made the postseason since 2003 and have alternated wins and losses over their last five games.
Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez is one inning from tying his career-high scoreless innings streak of 13.0 and will try to do that tonight. Sanchez tossed seven shutout innings in a win at Los Angeles on Sept. 5, then held the Padres scoreless over five frames last Friday at Petco Park. He did walk seven batters in the 1-0 win, but did not record a decision.
The left-hander is 10-8 in 30 games (29 starts) this season with a 3.29 earned run average, but is only 1-5 in 14 lifetime matchups, 10 of which have been starts, with the Dodgers.
Los Angeles will wrap up what has been a disappointing 10-game road trip Thursday and wasted a solid effort from starting pitcher Chad Billingsley in last night's loss.
Billingsley allowed one run in seven innings and fanned seven batters to absorb the loss. George Sherrill gave up the other run in relief, as the Dodgers remained 10 1/2 games off the lead in both the NL West and wild card.
"He went after it and a soft single beat him. He had another great game," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Billingsley.
Andre Ethier finished with a team-best two hits and homered off Wilson with two outs in the ninth inning to account for LA's scoring.
The Dodgers, who are 3-6 on the road swing, hope Ted Lilly can tame the Giants when he toes the rubber tonight. Lilly is 5-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts for Los Angeles since coming over in a trade from Chicago, but is winless (0-2) in his previous three outings. Lilly lost last Thursday in a 3-2 setback at Houston, as he was reached for three runs in six innings.
Lilly did not figure into the decision of a 5-4 defeat versus San Francisco on Sept. 4 and permitted two runs and three hits through seven innings. The lefty is 3-1 in six career starts against the Giants.
San Francisco leads the 2010 series with LA by a 9-8 margin and is 6-2 in the previous eight meetings between the ballclubs.