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The underwhelming battle for fourth place in the National League West continues Sunday as the San Diego Padres host the San Francisco Giants for the rubber match of their three-game series. Giants ace Madison Bumgarner returned from the disabled list Saturday and tossed seven strong innings but settled for a no-decision after Hector Sanchez belted a two-run homer in the ninth to give San Diego a 5-3 victory.
Matt Szczur and Jabari Blash also went deep for the Padres, who have won six of their last nine to move five games ahead of the last-place Giants. Blash was recalled from Triple-A El Paso on Friday to replace injured right fielder Hunter Renfroe (neck) and has gone 4-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs in the first two games of the series. The Giants have dropped six of their last eight contests and were dealt another blow Saturday, when Johnny Cueto was placed on the 10-day disabled list with blisters on the tips of his right thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Cueto, who has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, will be replaced by struggling veteran Matt Cain for the next two starts.
TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, NBCSN Bay Area (San Francisco), FSN San Diego
PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants RH Jeff Samardzija (4-10, 4.58 ERA) vs. Padres RH Trevor Cahill (3-3, 3.38)
Samardzija’s 10 losses are tied for the most in the National League, but the 32-year-old actually served as the Giants’ most reliable starter in the first half. The Indiana native has won two of his last three outings while posting a 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that stretch. Wil Myers is hitless in 13 at-bats against Samardzija, who is 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 career games (11 starts) against the Padres - including 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA in six appearances (five starts) at Petco Park.
Cahill has been a pleasant surprise for the Padres, collecting at least six strikeouts in his first seven starts and bolstering his trade value in the process. The 29-year-old has been especially tough at Petco Park, where he is 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA in three outings. Cahill is 6-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 16 career games (13 starts) against the Giants but has struggled to contain Brandon Belt (7-for-24, one homer) and Buster Posey (7-for-21, one homer).
1. Giants 3B Eduardo Nunez has reached base safely in 32 consecutive games.
2. Padres C Austin Hedges was scratched from Saturday’s lineup as a precaution after taking a foul ball off his mask the previous night but could return for the series finale.
3. The Giants have dropped 13 of their last 18 games against San Diego, including eight of the last 12 at Petco Park.
PREDICTION: Giants 6, Padres 3