Astros-Giants Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 11, 2012
Madison Bumgarner didn't have his best stuff last time out, but the San Francisco Giants scored enough runs for him to come away with the win. The left-hander can't count on that happening in Tuesday night's series opener against the visiting Houston Astros considering the way the Giants have struggled at the plate. Looking to win a second straight start after going 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four, Bumgarner (7-4, 3.26 ERA) came out on top in Wednesday's 6-5 win in San Diego. "I didn't throw very well," Bumgarner said after walking a career high-tying four in six innings. "Defense picked me up and offense picked me up, too." Bumgarner is 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in five home starts, but the Giants (34-27) open this series after batting .188 and scoring five runs while dropping two of three to AL West-leading Texas over the weekend. Both losses were by 5-0 margins after the Giants, who have won 10 of 14, had not been shut out all season heading into the series. The Astros (26-34) are among the worst road teams in the majors at 8-20, but they scored 20 runs over the weekend while taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox to begin their nine-game trip. "It was huge to be able to put up that many home runs (a season-high four) and get our first road (series) win," said manager Brad Mills, whose team won 11-9 on Sunday to improve to 4-3 since a season-high eight-game skid. Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie will look to keep his hot streak going after hitting three of his team-leading 12 homers in the last four contests. So will first baseman Brett Wallace, who is batting .400 (10 for 25) with two homers and four RBIs while hitting safely in all seven games since getting called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 3. Tuesday's scheduled starter Bud Norris (5-3, 4.65) will get his second look at San Francisco after going seven strong innings in a 4-3, 11-inning road win Aug. 28. Houston has lost Norris' last three starts after he struck out a season-high 12 and surrendered four runs in Wednesday's 4-3 defeat to St. Louis. The right-hander is 0-2 with an 11.68 ERA in his last three outings after posting a 0.35 ERA while winning his previous four. Norris will face a San Francisco team that's gone 16 consecutive home games without a home run. It's the longest such streak in the majors since the 1990 Astros' 16-game stretch. Buster Posey, the Giants' leader with seven homers and 33 RBIs, has gone 73 at-bats at AT&T Park without a home run. Left fielder Melky Cabrera could return to San Francisco's lineup after missing the last three games with a strained right hamstring. Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer might play Tuesday after missing the last two games with an illness. Mills said Schafer also had pink eye. Houston has lost 22 of its last 32 visits to San Francisco.
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