Luckily for the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers are stinking it up with seven straight losses.
The Giants, who lead the NL West by one game ahead of Los Angeles, look to earn a series split Sunday versus the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a four- game set at AT&T Park. San Francisco won Thursday's series opener by a 5-0 score, but has dropped the last two portions on this series.
In Saturday's 2-1 setback to the NL Central-leading Reds, the Giants managed only two hits off Cincinnati starter Mat Latos, who went the distance for a second straight start by holding the hosts to a run and striking out seven.
"We knew we had our work cut out," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He has been tough on us but we've had some good games against him. We've seen him enough; we knew what we were going into."
Barry Zito got the start for the Giants and pitched well, allowing a run and five hits in six innings of work. Zito, though, walked six batters.
"It was a good effort," Bochy said. "He got off a couple innings there and battled himself. He threw six innings and gave up one run; that's a great job. Unfortunately, we ran into another well-pitched game."
Brandon Crawford's third-inning double was the only hit against the Reds until pinch-hitter Brandon Belt tripled in the ninth inning and scored on Gregor Blanco's groundout.
San Francisco is still 6-3 in its last nine games (4-2 on seven-game homestand) and will head east for a six-game trek against Washington and Pittsburgh after today's game.
Taking the mound for the Giants in the finale of their residency will be Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong has won seven of his last eight decisions and tossed seven shutout innings in Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Dodgers, improving to 7-3 in 14 starts and lowering his earned run average to 2.23. Vogelsong has given the bullpen plenty of rest and has lasted at least six innings in each start.
The right-hander did not record a decision against the Reds earlier this season and is 2-3 with a lofty 5.48 ERA in 14 career games (7 starts) in this series.
Cincinnati is targeting a series win Sunday and has a one-game edge over Pittsburgh and a 3 1/2-game lead ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central.
Besides Latos' heroics, Miguel Cairo and Ryan Hannigan were each credited with an RBI, and Zack Cozart went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
There was some bad news to report on Saturday, as Reds slugger and first baseman Joey Votto left the game with inflammation in his left knee. He apparently tweaked the leg in an at-bat in the top of the fifth inning and could miss some time to rest. Votto is batting .350 with 14 home runs and 47 RBI this season.
"He's day to day and we'll re-evaluate it and analyze it in the morning," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on the club's website. "It depends how sore he is and how he feels."
The Reds, who will also visit Los Angeles and San Diego on their 11-game journey through California, hope Bronson Arroyo can bring his best stuff to the mound Sunday. Arroyo has lost four of his previous five decisions and did not factor in the outcome of a 4-3 win Tuesday versus Milwaukee. He allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings and is 3-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts.
Arroyo, a right-hander, did not post a decision against the Giants early on in the 2012 campaign and is 3-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) against the club.
The Reds won two of three games against the Giants from April 24-26 and are 9-4 in the past 13 meetings between the teams.