MLB Insiders - San Francisco Giants

The Pirates open a three-game series in San Francisco on Friday night. Lefty Zach Duke will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Giants counter with right-hander Kevin Correia.

The San Francisco Giants will try for consecutive wins when they open a three-game home series Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates (59-80) blew a five-run lead in an 8-6 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday, and on Friday they'll turn to a pitcher who is used to giving up a lot of hits. Zachary Duke (4-13, 5.14 ERA) has allowed 200 hits in 159 1-3 innings this season.

The southpaw hasn't won since June 9 - a stretch of 14 starts. Duke pitched well last Saturday, when he gave up two runs and seven hits in eight innings, but got charged with a 2-0 defeat to the Chicago Cubs.

One of Duke's four wins came against the Giants on May 6, when he yielded three runs over 7 1-3 innings of a 12-6 victory, part of a three-game sweep for Pittsburgh.

San Francisco's Kevin Correia (3-7, 5.35) didn't get charged with the loss in his last start, but he also didn't pitch well. Correia gave up six runs and seven hits over six innings in Saturday's 7-6 defeat at Cincinnati.

The Pirates have won six straight games in San Francisco and 13 of 15 against the Giants overall.

The Giants had Thursday off before returning to their home park and playing the Pirates and Diamondbacks in the next week.

The buzz, as the team gathers for Friday's opener, will still be about 36-year-old Scott McClain, who hit his first big-league homer Wednesday in Denver during the Giants' only win on their six-game trip.

How rare is it for a player to homer for the first time at 36?

Put it this way. McClain is the oldest position player to hit his first major league homer since Cincinnati outfielder Bob Thurman, who previously played in the Negro Leagues, hit his first homer at age 37 on April 16, 1955.

That was researched by the Elias Sports Bureau, as was this:

Wednesday marked the first game in 2008 in which one team's rookies combined for nine runs, nine RBIs and 13 hits. In the past 50 years, just one team had rookies reach those levels in one game, and that came in 2006 when Marlins rookies scored nine runs, drove in 10 and collected 14 hits in a 16-5 win over the Mets.

Wednesday, the Giants started six rookies, and old man McClain (3-for-5, three runs, three RBIs) wasn't the only star.

Nate Schierholtz went 4-for-5 and scored three times. Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-5, scored two runs and drove in two. Travis Ishikawa went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and one run. Emmanuel Burriss went 1-for-4 with one RBI, and Eugenio Velez went 1-for-4.

McClain's first 362 homers as a pro came in the minors and Japan.

--C Buster Posey, the Giants' first pick (fifth overall), is joining Class A San Jose for the California League playoffs beginning Saturday. It'll be Posey's third team in a week. He played seven games for the Giants' rookie-level Arizona League team (during which the squad won the league title), then played three games for short-season Salem-Keizer (during which the team won a division title).

--LHP Madison Bumgarner had another stellar outing for Class A Augusta, winning the opener of the South Atlantic League playoffs, a 1-0 victory over Asheville. Bumgarner, the Giants' top pick in the 2007 draft (10th overall), threw eight scoreless innings, surrendered three hits and collected 10 strikeouts (no walks). Bumgarner picked off all three baserunners.

--C/INF Pablo Sandoval was LHP Barry Zito's catcher in his last three victories. Zito has won three of four starts. The one loss was caught by Bengie Molina.

--INF Kevin Frandsen ran the bases Wednesday for the first time since his Achilles tendon surgery in spring training. He estimated he ran at about 90 percent. The next big step is to play in the Giants' Instructional League in Arizona, which begins this month.

--Orlando Cepeda will become the fourth ex-Giant to have his own statue unveiled in a ceremony before Saturday night's game. The first three: Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Leadoff homers for Randy Winn this year. In his career, he's opened the top of the first with a homer 16 times.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel one of my dreams is complete." -- Rookie Pablo Sandoval after hitting his first career home run, one pitch after Bengie Molina went deep. It was the second time this year the Giants homered back-to-back


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