(Sports Network) - The message is loud and clear for the San Francisco Giants: win out and capture a first National League West title since 2003.
The Giants hold a slim one-game lead over San Diego in the division standings and will begin a possible season-ending six-game homestand tonight, starting with the first of three straight contests versus Arizona at AT&T Park. The Padres will visit the Bay area for a crucial three-game set over the weekend.
San Francisco has won five of its last seven games and just took two of three matchups with Colorado, including Sunday's 4-2 victory in the series finale at Coors Field. Freddy Sanchez got the offense going early with a two-run homer in the first inning and Cody Ross later added a solo blast for the Giants, who got a complete-game effort from starter Matt Cain. Cain allowed two runs and three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk for his 13th win (13-10).
"He was throwing all his pitches for strikes, getting his slider over for strikes, locating his fastball," Ross said of the right-hander. "He just had them off-balance the whole time."
The win put a big dent in the Rockies' chances of a playoff spot and lifted San Francisco 20 games above the .500 mark at 88-68. Jonathan Sanchez will take the mound for the current NL West leaders tonight and was 3-0 in six starts before losing to the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
In the 2-0 loss to the Cubs, Sanchez allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out six batters and fell to 11-9 with a 3.16 ERA in 32 games (31 starts). The left-hander is 1-0 in two starts against the D'Backs this season and 5-6 in 17 lifetime appearances, 14 of which have been starts, in this series.
Arizona looks to rain on San Francisco's parade when it starts a season-ending six-game road trip tonight. It will also make a stop in Los Angeles for three games and went 5-1 on a six-game homestand culminated by Sunday's 5-4 triumph versus the Dodgers at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks put up a four-spot in the bottom of the eighth inning to take over, as Tony Abreu and Chris Young each clubbed two-run homers. Miguel Montero ended with three hits and starter Joe Saunders did not factor in the outcome with five innings of two-run ball. Sam Demel was credited with the win despite allowing two runs in the top of the eighth. Demel was bailed out in the bottom half of the frame, while Juan Gutierrez threw a scoreless ninth inning for his 14th save.
"For us to get the last home win of the season, I think it's great for the fans," Saunders said on the team's site. "I was proud of the boys for picking me up and coming back and getting the 'W.'"
Hoping for a third straight 'W' Tuesday evening will be Arizona starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez has won back-to-back starts and previously took the hill last Wednesday in an 8-4 win over Colorado. He didn't pitch well in the victory and was touched for four runs and five hits in five innings. The win lifted his 2010 mark to 7-14 in 31 starts with a 5.04 earned run average.
Lopez, a righty, is 0-2 in five career starts against San Francisco.
The Giants have dominated this season's series with Arizona to the tune of a 10-5 margin, including a 6-3 ledger at Chase Field.