for this game

Padres try to stay hot versus champs

Jul 5, 2011 - 2:39 PM (Sports Network) - San Diego closer Heath Bell said that this series with first-place San Francisco has injected a little extra juice into the Padres clubhouse.

The way they have been playing as of late, it might not have been necessary.

The Friars take aim at their 10th victory in 13 games tonight in the second of four straight games versus the Giants at AT&T Park.

Though the Padres sit fourth in the National League West, nine games back of the Giants, they have been on a surge since a 1-9 stretch from June 10-20. Monday's series-opening 5-3 victory was their sixth in their last eight games and 14th in the past 21 against the Giants.

Will Venable had two hits, one a solo homer, and Clayton Richard hurled five scoreless innings of two-hit ball before being lifted after 76 pitches due to tightness in his left arm. Bell gave up a run in the ninth inning, but worked his way out of a jam to secure his 25th save of the season and 59th in his past 60 chances.

San Diego has won 10 of its last 12 at AT&T Park.

"They're such a great team, and we get pumped up to play a first-place team," said Bell about the Giants. "I'm glad we came out on top and I hope we do the same [Tuesday]."

San Diego came out on top Monday after getting to All-Star Tim Lincecum for three runs over his five-inning outing. The former Cy Young Award winner saw his season record dip below .500 at 6-7 and San Francisco had its edge over second-place Arizona fall to two games.

"I didn't feel like I had a good rhythm. I didn't feel like I had good energy. I just felt like I was battling through every pitch," Lincecum said about his performance.

The Giants have lost four of their last six and will try to get their struggling offense going tonight against Tim Stauffer, who has won back-to- back starts for the Padres and has yielded two runs or less in each of his past five starts with a 1.00 earned run average in that span.

Stauffer has gone at least seven innings in each of those games, including Wednesday versus the Royals. The 29-year-old righty gave up one run on four hits and two walks, striking out six to improve to 4-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 17 starts.

Stauffer has decent career numbers against the Giants, going 4-3 with a 3.19 ERA in eight games against them, but did take a loss at home on April 6 after giving up four runs over just 4 2/3 innings.

The key for Stauffer may be slowing down San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval, who had three of San Diego's six hits on Monday. Sandoval hit a two-run homer and stretched his hitting streak to a career-best 15 straight games. His double in the first inning also gave up an extra-base hit in nine consecutive games, matching the longest such streak in the majors this season.

It is also the longest run for the Giants in the past 48 seasons, surpassing eight-game extra-base hit streaks by Jack Clark (1978) and Barry Bonds (2004).

All-Star Matt Cain faces his division rival for the 24th time in his career tonight. Though he is 5-9 with a decent 3.43 ERA lifetime versus the Padres, he went just 1-3 with a 5.28 ERA in five starts against them last year.

Cain could end those struggles tonight if he can carry over his excellent June. The righty is 4-0 over his past six starts and hasn't allowed a run in two outings, spanning 14 innings.

The 26-year-old Cain beat the Indians on June 25 with seven scoreless frames of four-hit ball, walking one and striking out six in a 1-0 victory. He then turned in the exact same pitching line on Thursday at the Cubs, but got a no- decision in his team's 5-2 loss while also surpassing 1,000 career strikeouts.

Cain, who hasn't lost since May 29, is 7-4 with a 3.02 ERA in 17 starts this season.

It is unknown if the Giants will have outfielder Cody Ross for this game after he left in the seventh inning on Monday with a left hamstring strain. He is slated to undergo an MRI today.