A pair of competitive right-handers take center stage off the shores of McCovey Cove, as Matt Cain leads the San Francisco Giants against Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals Tuesday at AT&T Park.
Cain has won his last three starts and barely got by the Colorado Rockies on the road Thursday in an 8-6 win. Cain allowed six runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings to run his record to 3-2 in nine starts, but raised his earned run average from 5.04 to 5.43. The burly righty, who hasn't lost since April 18 at Milwaukee, is 5-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 career starts against Washington.
San Francisco has won each of Cain's last four trips to the mound after losing his first five. Cain was 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA to kick off the campaign.
Strasburg, meanwhile, pitched a career-high eight innings his last time out in a 6-2 victory at San Diego on Thursday. He was 0-5 with a 3.61 earned run average in his last seven starts since winning on Opening Day, and held the Padres to two runs -- one earned -- and three hits.
The right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery a few years ago, is 2-5 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts this season and has won both of his career starts against the Giants. Strasburg is just 1-2 in five road assignments.
Washington hopes Strasburg can pitch the club back into the win column after it dropped an 8-0 decision to the Giants in Monday's series opener. Zach Duke was roughed up for four runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings, while relievers Craig Stammen and Henry Rodriguez both gave up two runs.
Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman and Duke provided the hits for the Nationals, who have lost three in a row and seven of 10 games.
"We were trying to do too much and not just go up there and swing the bat," Washington manager Davey Johnson admitted. "We'll be alright, tomorrow's another day but today was awful tough."
The Nationals fell to 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the NL East lead and are 3-5 on a 10-game western jaunt. Nats outfielder Bryce Harper was back in action after sitting two games to rest his left knee and finished 0-for-4.
"He's still got some swelling in there and he's receiving a little treatment," Johnson said Monday. "He was moving around a little bit better yesterday afternoon, acting like he wanted to go out there and hit something."
Meanwhile, Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong got his act together by tossing five shutout innings for the win and relief pitchers Javier Lopez, Jean Machi, Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt combined for four shutout innings.
Vogelsong, though, fractured his pitching hand in the bottom of the fifth after taking a fastball off his right knuckle while swinging at a pitch.
"He's got two breaks in the right hand there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed after the game. "He's going to go in tomorrow and have surgery. More than likely you're looking at four-to-six weeks."
Brandon Belt went 4-for-5 with a home run and four runs scored, and Angel Pagan drove in three runs for San Francisco, which won for just the second time in its last seven tries.
Washington claimed five of the six meetings against San Francisco last season, although the lone loss did come at AT&T Park.