(Sports Network) - The San Francisco Giants continue their charge towards a possible playoff spot when the National League West contenders conclude a three-game road series with the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Chase Field.
The Giants posted their fourth straight win and sixth victory in their past seven contests in Tuesday's middle test of this set, receiving three home runs from the offense and 11 strikeouts out of ace Tim Lincecum to come through with a 6-3 triumph over the last-place Diamondbacks. The result kept San Francisco one game off San Diego's lead atop the division, and the club trails Atlanta by the same margin for the top spot in the NL Wild Card standings.
Following tonight's tilt, the Giants will head to San Diego for a pivotal four-game series with the Padres beginning on Thursday.
Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell each swatted two-run homers and Freddy Sanchez had a solo shot as San Francisco opened up a 6-0 lead after six innings of Tuesday's game. That was more than enough support for Lincecum (13-9), who allowed three runs on just five hits over the first 6 2/3 innings to win his second consecutive start.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award honoree retired the first 13 Arizona hitters and didn't give up a run until Chris Young hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
"I had a pretty good roll in the first few innings and got some quick outs to get the offense back in the dugout, and when that happens, you put yourself in a better position," said Lincecum. "It was important to get early strikes."
All three San Francisco homers came against Diamondbacks starter Barry Enright (6-3), who permitted six runs and nine hits in a six-inning stint.
"It was tough for the team [that I allowed] us to get into an early hole," said Enright afterward. "I tried to battle, but [the Giants] had my number tonight."
Arizona has now lost four in a row overall, as well of 10 of its last 12 meetings with the Giants. San Francisco, which swept a four-game series between these teams in Phoenix back in late July, has gone 10-4 against the Diamondbacks over the course of this season.
The Giants' success against Arizona in 2010 hasn't carried over to Barry Zito, who'll be taking the mound for the visitors in the finale. In his only prior encounter with the D-Backs this season, the veteran lefty was shelled for nine runs (seven earned) and walked five batters before exiting after 3 2/3 innings of an August 28 loss at AT&T Park.
That setback was one of five consecutive losing starts Zito has endured, and the three-time All-Star hasn't lasted more than four innings in four of those games. He was ineffective again in last Friday's assignment at Los Angeles, permitting four runs and issuing four walks in only four frames against the rival Dodgers.
Since firing eight shutout innings to defeat the New York Mets in his first start following the All-Star break, Zito has gone 0-7 with a 5.79 ERA in 10 appearances.
The 2002 AL Cy Young Award recipient has historically struggled against the Diamondbacks as well, having registered a 3-7 record with a 5.33 ERA over 13 career starts versus tonight's opponent.
Dan Hudson gets the call for Arizona tonight and will be vying for a repeat performance of his lone career clash with the Giants. The rookie went head-to- head against Zito in that August 28 game in San Francisco and got the better of his counterpart, yielding just two runs and four hits while fanning six over seven sharp innings to improve to 4-1 since joining the Diamondbacks in a late-July trade with the Chicago White Sox.
Hudson couldn't pick up a win his last time out, but still held Houston to two runs while fanning six in a six-inning no-decision at Chase Field this Friday. The 23-year-old has put forth a quality start in every one of his seven games with Arizona and has recorded a sensational 1.99 ERA during that span.