MLB Insiders: San Francisco Giants

The Pirates begin a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at PNC Park. Righty Charlie Morton will pitch for the Bucs. The Giants will toss right-hander Matt Cain.

The San Francisco Giants aren't hitting the ball well or getting the job done on the mound. The defending World Series champions hope an eastern swing can help them get back on track.

The Giants try to snap their season-high four-game losing streak Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates as they begin a 10-game trip.

San Francisco walked a season-high seven in Sunday's 9-6, 10-inning loss to Atlanta and surrendered 16 free passes in three games while getting swept in a rematch of last season's NL division series.

That hasn't been a major problem for Matt Cain (2-1, 3.42 ERA), who has 16 strikeouts and six walks in four starts. The right-hander, though, has plenty to improve Tuesday when he looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season.

After allowing a combined three runs in his first three starts, Cain gave up six runs and nine hits in Wednesday's 10-2 loss at Colorado. He lasted just 4 2-3 innings and his ERA rose two full runs.

Cain is 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA in seven starts against Pittsburgh.

The Pirates will look for another strong start Tuesday when Charlie Morton (2-1, 3.33) gets a chance to rebound from a rough outing. The right-hander, who gave up four total earned runs in his first three starts, surrendered six and a career-high-tying 10 hits in Wednesday's 6-0 loss at Florida.

Morton, who has 12 strikeouts and 15 walks this season, is 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA in four starts against the Giants.

Fresh from being swept by the Braves, the Giants open a 10-game trip beginning Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

That's lots of away time for the Giants. The Braves series was their only time at home over a three-week stretch.

They'll have gone from Arizona to Colorado to San Francisco to Pittsburgh to Washington to New York.

The Giants plan to pitch Matt Cain in the opener in Pittsburgh. As of late Monday, they hadn't announced the rotation for the final two games of the series.

The Pirates are starting Charlie Morton, James McDonald and Jeff Karstens.

Ryan Vogelsong hopes he gets a start in Pittsburgh, where he pitched from 2001 to 2006, after the Giants traded him to the Pirates in the July '01 Jason Schmidt trade.

Vogelsong is deserving. He has thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief since being called up from Class AAA Fresno, where he was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts.

If Vogelsong gets a start in Pittsburgh, it'll mean manager Bruce Bochy is going with a five-man rotation and that Vogelsong is filling in for Barry Zito, who's on the disabled list.

A four-man rotation has been used since Zito was shelved April 17, and the four starters would get normal rest because of Monday's day off.

A five-man setup would allow for an extra day of rest for the entire crew.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Matt Cain, who will pitch Tuesday in Pittsburgh, is coming off his worst start of the season, a 4 2/3-inning stint in which he gave up six runs against the Rockies. His ERA jumped from 1.42 to 3.42, and it was his first non-quality start in four games.

--CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles) and RHP reliever Santiago Casilla (right elbow inflammation) weren't on the Giants' flight to Pittsburgh. Instead, they were to report to Arizona for extended spring training. Torres isn't expected to play on the 10-game trip. The hope is he can rejoin the club during the next homestand, May 6-12 against the Rockies and Diamondbacks.

--3B Pablo Sandoval's 2010 stats provide a little warning. He batted .368 in April before taking a serious dive and finishing at .268 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI, a far cry from his 2009 season when he batted .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI. So even though he's batting .319 with five home runs and 13 RBI, that shouldn't suggest he's fully back to his '09 form. He needs to show he's back through the summer, too.

--1B Aubrey Huff was 0-for-14 before hitting a double in the fourth inning Sunday. He finished the game 2-for-5 but is still at .225 with two home runs for the season. The Giants' No. 3 hitter batted .290 with a team-high 26 home runs last year. It's possible Huff was distracted at the plate because of multiple position changes. He played left and right fields as the Giants opened with Brandon Belt at first, but now that Belt is in the minors and Huff is at first, it'll be interesting to see if he produces more at the plate.

--LHP Madison Bumgarner won't be skipped in the rotation despite his struggles on the mound. He's 0-3 with a 7.79 ERA in four starts, allowing 25 hits and issuing 10 walks in 17 1/3 innings. Manager Bruce Bochy said, "If this were an issue with his arm, or if this were May or something, it would be different. He's going to have to learn to deal with adversity."

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Games to be played by the Giants on the current trip, which includes stops in Pittsburgh, Washington and New York. In Washington, it's possible the team could visit the White House. In New York, the Giants plan to bring their World Series trophy to Troy, N.Y., where the team once played, and the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not playing Giants baseball right now. We're scuffling a little bit. We just need to get on a roll and remember the brand of ball we play." -- Closer Brian Wilson after the Giants were swept by the Braves. Following the series, the Giants began a three-city, 10-game trip.

ROSTER REPORT
MEDICAL WATCH:

--LHP Barry Zito (strained right foot) went on the 15-day disabled list April 17.

--CF Andres Torres (left Achilles tendon strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 10. He is continuing his rehab at the Giants' Scottsdale, Ariz., facility.

--RHP Santiago Casilla (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 1. He is continuing his rehab at the Giants' Scottsdale, Ariz., facility. Casilla threw a bullpen session April 22 for the first time since he was injured on Opening Day.


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