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Giants vs. Mets: Madison Bumgarner Eyes Bounce-Back Win

(Sports Network) - The San Francisco Giants only have themselves to blame for losing grip on the National League West lead. Tonight, they hope to bounce back versus the New York Mets in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park.

The Giants have lost four straight and sit a percentage point ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for division bragging rights. They were just swept in three games against L.A. and dropped a 4-0 decision in Sunday's series finale.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw hurled a five-hit shutout, while Giants right- hander Ryan Vogelsong was saddled with the hard-luck loss for giving up two runs - one earned - over six innings. Jeremy Affeldt allowed a pair of runs in relief.

"We got two months of baseball to play and a lot of things can happen between now and then. If history repeats itself, this division always comes down to the last couple weeks of the season," Vogelsong said.

San Francisco managed just five hits and was outscored, 19-3, in the series. It is 2-4 so far on a 10-game homestand and hopes Madison Bumgarner can continue his home dominance when he toes the rubber tonight. Bumgarner is 7-1 with a 1.89 earned run average in nine starts at AT&T Park this season, but did not receive a decision his last time out in a 3-2 win over San Diego by the bay.

Bumgarner allowed two runs in seven innings in that one and remained at 11-6 in 20 starts with a 3.10 ERA. The left-hander, who is 1-2 in his past four starts, faced the Mets for the first time in his career during a 7-2 win on April 23rd at Citi Field, where he fired seven innings of one-run ball.

New York split a four-game series at Arizona to kick off an 11-game trek and is coming off Sunday's 5-1 win behind a strong performance from R.A. Dickey.

Dickey, an All-Star knuckleballer, allowed one unearned run and four hits in seven innings of work for his NL-leading 14th win of the season. He also fanned eight batters.

"I just kept telling myself to stay with it. It (knuckleball) was pretty good," said Dickey, who experienced bouts of nausea during the game. "I felt like I had a pretty good knuckleball the whole nine (innings)."

Scott Hairston knocked in two runs, while David Wright and Andres Torres scored twice for New York, which won for just the third time in the last 17 games and will also visit San Diego for a three-game set on this road trip.

First-year major leaguer Jeremy Hefner draws the start for New York tonight and he sports a 1-4 record with a 5.40 ERA in 13 games (4 starts). Hefner, a right-hander, is filling in for an injured Johan Santana and took the loss in Wednesday's 5-2 setback against Washington. He gave up three runs - two earned - in six innings.

Hefner made his major league debut against San Francisco on April 23rd with three scoreless innings of relief in the first game of a doubleheader.

For more on the Giants, head to McCovey Chronicles.