|Fading playoff hopes on line as Giants host D-backs|
Two teams staggering but upright in the National League playoff race hope to deliver the knockout punch to the other when the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the San Francisco Giants for a two-game series beginning Monday night.
Both teams enter the series -- the final two meetings of the season between the NL West rivals -- coming off much-needed wins Sunday, with the Diamondbacks avoiding a three-game sweep at Milwaukee with a 5-2 win and the Giants rallying for a 5-4 victory and a two-game sweep of their series in Oakland.
The Giants (65-65) begin the week four games out of the second NL wild-card spot, a half-game ahead of the Diamondbacks (65-66).
The clubs met four times in Arizona earlier this month, with the Giants ripping Arizona pitching for 28 runs in three straight wins before the Diamondbacks salvaged the series finale.
Pitching has been an issue for the Diamondbacks since they dealt Zack Greinke to Houston for four prospects (including a pair of pitching prospects) at the trade deadline.
"With the loss of Zack, we knew the risk was going to be a short-term deficit to the rotation," general manager Mike Hazen told reporters last week. "We traded a No. 1 starting pitcher; there was probably going to be a tick-back of some sort."
The Diamondbacks hope the worst is behind them. They got a strong performance from Robbie Ray coming off the injured list Sunday, and now turn to rookie Alex Young (5-3, 4.04 ERA) in search of a momentum-sustaining performance.
The left-hander snapped a personal three-game losing streak when he beat Colorado in his last start, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings last Tuesday.
He was the losing pitcher, burned by an Evan Longoria home run, when the Giants won 7-0 at Arizona on Aug. 15. Young was roughed up for five runs and eight hits over five innings in that one.
He'd earlier thrown five strong innings (three hits, one run) against the Giants in his major league debut June 27. He's now 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA against them.
Young's debut was in San Francisco and began a run of good starts on the road. He is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in road games so far this season.
Longoria was the hitting star in Oakland on Sunday with a home run and go-ahead, two-run single, helping manager Bruce Bochy celebrate his 4,000th major league game, which have been split between San Diego and San Francisco.
"They're the ones that do the work. It's more about the players than you ever think," Bochy told reporters before the game. "Sometimes early in your career, you think, 'I can make a huge difference.' But really it's the players who determine it, and they're the ones who should get all the credit."
The Diamondbacks presented Bochy with a family getaway to Montana as a going-away present when the clubs completed their final series of the season in Arizona earlier this month.
Struggling right-hander Tyler Beede (3-7, 5.82), winless in his last seven starts, will attempt to get a six-game homestand off on a positive note for the Giants.
He is 0-3 in eight home games (seven starts) in his two-year career, and has never beaten the Diamondbacks (0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts).
--Field Level Media