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Astros-Giants Preview

Aug 10, 2015 - 10:57 PM The San Francisco Giants didn't have an answer in Chicago over the weekend during four straight losses to the Cubs, the team they're chasing for the second NL wild card.

Comfort finally comes, though, with the man who's taking the mound to begin a two-game series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

Madison Bumgarner will try to stop the bleeding from a 3-7 road trip against fellow left-hander Scott Kazmir, who's rolling since joining Houston three weeks ago.

Bumgarner (12-6, 3.28 ERA) was on the hill for San Francisco's last win Wednesday before disaster ensued in Chicago, shifting the Giants from wild-card leaders over the Cubs to 3 1/2 back.

Bumgarner has lasted at least seven innings in eight of his last 11 starts, and he's won four of the past five while posting a 1.80 ERA in the victories.

In 11 starts at home, Bumgarner is 5-2 with a 2.43 ERA. He's 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three against the Astros in San Francisco but hasn't faced them since 2012.

Giants starters took all the losses against the Cubs after struggling to a 7.94 ERA.

With Bumgarner on the mound Tuesday and 51 games left on the schedule, it's not time for the Giants (59-52) to panic. All-Star catcher Buster Posey, though, told MLB's official website that "it's time to pay attention to (the standings)."

Things aren't going much better for the Astros (61-52), who were swept by Texas and lost the final three of a four-game set against Oakland during the first seven games of a nine-game road trip.

"We've had a rough week," manager A.J. Hinch said.

So rough that the players held a meeting minutes after Saturday's 2-1 loss. Closer Luke Gregerson blew two save opportunities in Oakland, but he insisted the Astros aren't pressing.

"I think a lot of guys are just kind of a little upset with themselves. I think guys don't feel like they're playing up to their caliber, almost," Gregerson said. "And I feel like just a little, just a little personal anger. Not even necessarily at teammates, just more so personally amongst guys.

"We know we got to be better than this and we know we can do better than this, and I think that they know they need to step up and we need to win some ballgames."

Kazmir (6-6, 2.08) will make his fourth start in an Astros uniform. He is 1-1 with a 0.44 ERA in his first three and 2-1 with a 0.45 ERA in his last six overall.

Kazmir took the loss against the Rangers on Wednesday after allowing four runs, only one of which was earned, in 5 2-3 innings.

Giants left fielder Nori Aoki told MLB's official website he is fine after getting hit in the head by a 92 mph pitch Sunday. Aoki left the game and said he initially felt nauseated.

San Francisco has won eight of nine at home, while the Astros have lost 27 of 35 on the road.