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Giants-Nationals Preview

Jul 3, 2015 - 8:33 PM The names of the pitchers San Francisco has relieved of starting duties are as big as their two replacements. Whether any of the four can perform on the level the Giants desire remains to be seen.

Jake Peavy gets his shot Friday night in Washington as the Giants try to recover from a midweek sweep in their first meeting with the Nationals since defeating them in four games in the NL division series.

Peavy's start comes a day after Matt Cain's return to the mound went poorly in a 5-4 loss in Miami. The Giants (42-38) have been underwhelming on the mound since Chris Heston's no-hitter June 9 with the rotation posting a 4.26 ERA in 21 games.

The bullpen, meanwhile, has a 7.20 ERA in the last seven and figures to be without closer Santiago Casilla for the next few games because of a tired arm.

"It just didn't look like the same Casilla out there," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's just a little tired, I think."

The Giants seem to be fine on offense with a 5.8 scoring average over a 7-6 span. Gregor Blanco homered and is batting .485 in nine games. Buster Posey's homer also went to waste, and he's hitting .448 with 15 RBIs in eight games.

Cain and Peavy are replacing Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson, who have combined for a 6.36 ERA since May 24. Lincecum landed on the disabled list Thursday because of a bruised pitching arm and Hudson joined him there Friday due to a shoulder injury.

Those numbers, however, have been better than Peavy (0-2, 9.39 ERA) showed in two starts prior to missing two and a half months with a back injury. The right-hander failed to make it through more than four innings, but apparently what he did for the club a season ago hasn't been forgotten.

Peavy was 7-6 with a 2.85 ERA in 16 starts after being acquired from Boston on July 26, which includes four playoff starts and an NLDS win over Washington. That 3-2 victory on Oct. 3 moved Peavy to 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four against the Nationals. Yunel Escobar is 1 for 14 in the matchup.

It could be the right time to catch the Nationals (43-36), who scored two runs with nine hits in consecutive losses at Atlanta. Thursday's 2-1 defeat closed a 3-3 trip, but they return to Washington looking to match a season-best seven-game home win streak.

The Giants won both games at Nationals Park in the postseason series, but it followed a 3-10 span there dating to the start of 2011.

Gio Gonzalez will be charged with helping turn things around, and his form in his latest full start was about as good as it's been during his up-and-down season.

Gonzalez (5-4, 4.41) pitched an inning in Saturday's game against Philadelphia before it was postponed, making a 9-2 home win over Pittsburgh on June 21 his last true test.

The left-hander gave up four hits in seven scoreless innings to reaffirm his comfort level at Nationals Park. He's 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA in six starts there as opposed to 2-3 with a 5.89 mark in eight on the road.

"I think he used his curveball a lot," manager Matt Williams told MLB's official website. "He threw some changeups, but for the most part his curveball was effective for him. ... It just makes his fastball late even better."

While Peavy opened the NLDS, Gonzalez was unable to help the Nationals extend it. He started Game 4 and allowed two unearned runs in four innings. He's 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA in eight starts against San Francisco. Justin Maxwell is 4 for 8 with a homer against him.