Some bad blood, outstanding pitching and a string of impressive victories have highlighted the San Francisco Giants' season series against the San Diego Padres.
Five days after a dominant performance down the coast, Johnny Cueto will try to lead the Giants to their seventh straight win over the NL West rivals and 11th in 12 games overall Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at AT&T Park.
San Francisco starters have a 1.90 ERA over six meetings with the Padres (19-26) after limiting them to one run in each game of three straight victories at Petco Park last week.
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Cueto played a starring role in the middle game, allowing one run and four hits with eight strikeouts in a 2-1 win May 18 for his second complete game in the season series. He's gone 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA with 54 Ks over his last seven starts against the Padres.
"Cueto doesn't give in. He preys on you expanding the zone," San Diego manager Andy Green told MLB's official website. "He's a guy that's touch-and-feel early in the game, he's pitching at 87-89. Then all of a sudden he gets down to the seventh, eighth, ninth inning and he morphs. He's throwing 94-95. He's almost a completely different pitcher."
A night earlier, the benches and bullpens had poured onto the field after Madison Bumgarner struck out Wil Myers and then stared him down before Myers yelled back.
San Francisco's rotation has posted a 1.78 ERA while winning 10 of the past 11 games after Bumgarner led the way in Sunday's 1-0 home victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Cueto (6-1, 2.70 ERA) hopes to capture his fourth consecutive win and lead the Giants (27-19) to their 15th in 18 meetings with San Diego dating to June 2015. They've also outscored the Padres 65-25 over an eight-game home winning streak over that span.
Alexei Ramirez has gone 3 for 6 with a double versus Cueto this season, but Jon Jay (1 for 5), Myers (1 for 8), Matt Kemp (0 for 8) and Derek Norris (0 for 7) have struggled.
Though they took two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend, the Padres lost for the fifth time in seven games in Sunday's 9-5, 17-inning defeat.
Drew Pomeranz has only worked seven innings once in eight starts, but he'll try to pick up a bullpen that used three relievers in Saturday's 3-2, 11-inning win and six on Sunday.
The left-hander has been sharp with a 1.13 ERA in his last four starts, but he's 2-2 over that stretch while receiving four runs from the offense. He allowed two runs and four hits - including a Hunter Pence home run - over six innings while opposing Cueto last week.
Pence also took him deep at AT&T Park on April 25 when Pomeranz (4-4, 1.96) gave up four runs - three earned - in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-4 defeat. Buster Posey is 6 for 10 with two homers off him, while each of Pence's four hits in 14 at-bats have left the yard.
Pence is expected to return from a right hamstring injury in this series opener.
The Giants continued to scuffle at the plate Sunday, going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They're batting .163 in those situations over the past 14.
"We're having a tough time offensively," manager Bruce Bochy confirmed.