(Sports Network) - Runs were hard to come by in Monday's opener of a three- game series between the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, and another pitcher's duel could be in the works when the two National League West foes square off again tonight at Chase Field.
Neither team scored a run over the first 10 innings of yesterday's clash, with Nate Schierholtz's two-run triple in the top of the 11th breaking the stalemate and lifting the Giants to a 2-0 victory.
Arizona reliever Aaron Heilman (5-7) retired the first two hitters he faced in the 11th, but Aubrey Huff kept the inning alive for San Francisco with a single. Buster Posey followed with a base hit to set the stage for Schierholtz, who drove a pitch into the gap in right center to plate both runners and end the scoreless deadlock.
"I knew I had to keep it simple and stay up the middle," said Schierholtz. "[Heilman] left a changeup up and I was able to put a good swing on it. It was good to get in there and contribute."
Brian Wilson walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the 11th, but the All- Star closer set down the next three batters to record his 41st save and finish off the Giants' fifth win in their last six contests.
Monday's triumph kept San Francisco one game behind San Diego for first place in the NL West standings, and the team is now 1 1/2 back of Philadelphia for the lead in the league's wild card race after the Phillies split a doubleheader with Florida yesterday.
Following this series, the Giants will visit San Diego for four critical games beginning on Thursday.
Arizona suffered its third straight loss with Monday's result, although manager Kirk Gibson was pleased with his young team's effort.
"It was one of those kind of games, it was very tense and championship-caliber play," Gibson remarked afterward. "I loved it, but ultimately [the Giants] got the job [done]. For our team, this is what we're looking to play for every day."
Neither starting pitcher factored in the final outcome despite both performing extremely well. Arizona's Ian Kennedy yielded just two hits and struck out six over the first eight innings, while Giants youngster Madison Bumgarner fanned seven Diamondbacks and allowed five hits over 7 1/3 shutout frames.
With San Francisco sending two-time NL Cy Young Award recipient Tim Lincecum to the mound and the Diamondbacks countering with impressive rookie Barry Enright, scoring could be scarce again tonight.
Lincecum has really struggled over the second half of this season, but the 2010 All-Star was able to reclaim his usual outstanding form in last Wednesday's game against Colorado. The hard-throwing righty limited the Rockies to one run and struck out nine over eight innings to register a long- awaited 12th victory of the season.
The 26-year-old had lost five straight starts prior to Wednesday's breakthrough and posted an uncharacteristically bad 7.62 earned run average over that frustrating winless stretch. One of those setbacks came against Arizona on August 27, with Lincecum being reached for four runs and issuing four walks in six innings.
That defeat was only the second for Lincecum in seven career decisions against the Diamondbacks, and the San Francisco ace has recorded a strong 2.61 ERA over 12 starts in this series. In his most recent visit to Chase Field, he surrendered just two runs in an eight-inning no-decision on July 25.
Enright has been very consistent since joining the Arizona rotation in late June, with the 24-year-old having compiled a 6-2 record along with an outstanding 2.45 ERA over his first 12 major league starts. The right-hander enters tonight's tilt having won three consecutive assignments and outpitching some of the NL's top hurlers along the way.
After firing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball to best Colorado and ace Ubaldo Jimenez on August 21, Enright scattered six hits over seven shutout frames to win a head-to-head matchup with Lincecum six days later. He then registered his fifth straight winning decision by holding the slumping Padres to two runs over seven innings last Wednesday at Chase Field.
Enright also opposed Lincecum in that July 25 meeting in Phoenix and received a no-decision as well after allowing two runs in six innings. The Pepperdine product has been tough at home this year, bringing a 4-2 record and a 2.64 ERA over seven Chase Field starts into tonight's game.
Monday's victory was the Giants' fifth in a row as the visitor in this series, having swept a four-game set between these clubs in Phoenix back in July. San Francisco has prevailed in nine of 13 overall bouts with the Diamondbacks this season as well.