Braves-Giants preview

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bring on the lightweights.

That is the new battle cry of the staggering San Francisco Giants, who completed the heavyweight division of their schedule with a one mighty punch Thursday night, salvaging one of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers on newcomer Matt Moore's one-hitter.

The Giants (69-58) flew out of Los Angeles early Friday morning trailing the Dodgers (71-56) by two games in the National League West.

The good news is, despite having gone a major-league-worst 12-25 since the All-Star break, they still have a three-game cushion over the Miami Marlins (66-61) in the race to earn one of two NL wild cards.

And the best news of all is: Twenty-one of their last 35 games are against the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies.

The stretch breeze begins with a five-game homestand against the Braves (three games) and Diamondbacks (two).

Moore will pitch the fifth of the five games next Wednesday, and he hopes his effort in Los Angeles can trigger a turnaround that has him trying to extend a winning streak by then.

"Today was fun," he said after his masterpiece Thursday. "Hopefully, moving forward, we can build off this."

The Thursday victory ended a brutal stretch in which the Giants played 19 consecutive games against playoff contenders -- four against the New York Mets, and three against the Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Marlins and Washington Nationals.

The Giants went 7-12 in those games, taking them from a two-game lead in the West to their current two-game deficit.

So, bring on the Braves, who have the third-worst record in the NL (16-23) since the All-Star break, and then the Diamondbacks (15-23), who have the second-worst mark in that span.

The Giants will open the Atlanta series with right-hander Jeff Samardzija (10-9, 4.17 ERA) on the mound.

He is coming off one of his best games of the season, a 2-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the first time in his career.

That night, he was up against Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. On Friday, he will see Braves rookie right-hander Joel De La Cruz, who is still looking for his first major league win. De La Cruz is 0-6 with a 4.47 ERA in 14 games (seven starts).

De La Cruz's last effort was his worst, as he was roughed up for seven hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings during a no-decision against the Nationals.

Samardzija is 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 11 career appearances (five starts) against the Braves. He took the loss in a 5-3 defeat in Atlanta on May 30, allowing four earned runs in five innings.

De La Cruz, who made his debut for the Braves on June 29, has never faced the Giants.

The Braves are coming off a 2-2 split in their four-game series at Arizona. That constitutes a hot streak for a club that had lost seven of its previous eight.

However, Atlanta might have to open the San Francisco series without its best hitter, as first baseman Freddie Freeman took a hard fall chasing a foul pop up in the Thursday win.

"I'm just glad I didn't hit my head," Freeman said. "I'm going to be pretty sore (Friday)."