Jake Peavy pitched San Francisco to six straight wins to close his 2014 regular season and helped the Giants secure the NL's final playoff spot.
Heading into Wednesday night's home start against the Cincinnati Reds, the veteran is again doing his job down the stretch, but the Giants have a long way to go in a short period of time to be considered playoff contenders.
Monday's 9-8 loss to Cincinnati in 10 innings didn't help the Giants' postseason cause. San Francisco (76-69) came from three runs down entering the eighth, only for Todd Frazier to hit his fourth homer in seven games in the 10th.
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The Giants had won four straight overall and against the Reds (61-83), but they fell 7 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs in the wild-card race and 7 1/2 behind the West-leading Dodgers with 17 games remaining.
"Our season's pretty much on the line every time we go out there right now," ace Madison Bumgarner said.
The offense continued to do its part with 13 hits, and San Francisco is averaging 6.2 runs and hitting .303 over a 7-3 span. Batting title contender Buster Posey is hitting .455 in his last 16 games, and Matt Duffy is 7 for 13 in his last three.
Peavy (6-6, 4.15 ERA) is 3-0 with a 3.65 ERA in his last four starts, and Friday's 9-1 home win over San Diego might have been his best of the season. The right-hander gave up a run and two hits in seven innings to put himself in position to win three straight starts for the first time this year.
"It was just another game we had to have," Peavy told MLB's official website. "... Nobody in this locker room thought about giving up. We're ready to play this thing out."
His success at AT&T Park has been longer lasting, going 4-0 with a 3.19 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. Since the start of 2013, his 2.52 ERA in 14 starts there is fourth-lowest among the 30 pitchers with at least three starts at the park in that time, bettering even Madison Bumgarner (2.69).
The 34-year-old is 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 11 starts against the Reds, but just one of those has come in the last six seasons. Brandon Phillips is 3 for 21 against him.
Peavy is up against Michael Lorenzen, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball since the All-Star break.
Lorenzen (4-8, 5.45 ERA) has gone all eight starts since the break without making it through six innings, posting a 1-4 record and 9.44 ERA with a .364 opponent batting average. In three road starts during that span, the right-hander has lasted a total of 8 1-3 innings while giving up 20 runs and 20 hits.
In Friday's 4-2 home win over St. Louis, the 23-year-old allowed two runs and a season-high 10 hits in five innings but didn't earn the decision.
With an all-rookie rotation, the Reds are less concerned with results than taking stock in what they have going forward after trading Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake.
"The main thing is they're gaining valuable experience and we're getting a chance to evaluate them in a very tough month against teams competing," general manager Walt Jocketty said.
Lorenzen gave up three runs in two innings of relief in his only appearance against the Giants on May 15.