While the scuffling San Francisco Giants still sit atop the NL West, they'll surely need to pick up the pace to maintain their lead going forward.
San Francisco tries to avoid a seventh loss in eight games Thursday as it concludes a four-game set with the visiting New York Mets .
The Giants (56-48) haven't played like contenders of late, dropping six of seven - all at home - while batting .212, including a .183 mark with runners in scoring position. San Francisco saw its woes continue during Wednesday's 2-1 loss, going 0 for 3 with men on second or third.
Though the Giants were hoping to get a big boost from newly acquired outfielder Hunter Pence , the former All-Star went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his team debut. Pence is 11 for 65 (.169) with one extra-base hit and 20 strikeouts in his last 17 games.
"There was a ton of excitement," said Pence, acquired from Philadelphia for Nate Schierholtz and two minor leaguers Tuesday. "The fans were great out here. That's pretty cool. They were loud and rowdy. We had a pretty crazy game. Unfortunately I didn't really get to do anything."
With second-place Los Angeles also stumbling this week, San Francisco has been able to hang on to its one-game division lead. Third-place Arizona, though, suddenly finds itself in the thick of the race as well, moving within 2 1/2 games of the Giants with Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Dodgers.
The Mets (51-54) sit 11 games back of East-leading Washington despite winning three of four. Ruben Tejada and David Wright each had three hits Wednesday, with Tejada going deep for the second time in 792 career at-bats.
New York now turns to Chris Young (2-5, 4.58 ERA), who concluded July at 0-4 with a 6.00 ERA in five starts after getting hit hard again Saturday. The right-hander was tagged for a season-high six runs along with seven hits over four innings of a 6-3 loss at Arizona.
"It was just too inconsistent," he told the Mets' official website. "Physically, I felt good. That's what's disappointing, is I felt better than the way I pitched. But that's part of it. I'll keep working and hopefully I'll be better in five days."
Young is 2-2 with a 1.32 ERA over his last five starts against the Giants, though he hasn't faced them since 2009 while with San Diego. Ryan Theriot is the only active San Francisco hitter to have taken Young deep, going 2 for 7 with two homers in their matchups.
Young will also need to be wary of Buster Posey , who homered Wednesday and has gone 29 for 66 (.439) with four homers and 19 RBIs in his last 18 games to raise his average from .288 to .318.
San Francisco counters with Barry Zito (8-7, 3.89). The left-hander is 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA over his last five home starts and wasn't very sharp Saturday, yielding four runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings during a 10-0 loss to the Dodgers.
Zito is 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven career matchups against the Mets. He gave up two runs over five innings of a 4-3, 10-inning victory at Citi Field on April 20.
Scott Hairston , who didn't play Wednesday, is 4 for 13 with a homer and four walks against Zito since 2009. Batting .305 with nine homers in 128 at-bats versus lefties this season, Hairston has gone 9 for 18 with a pair of long balls in his last four starts.
|New York Mets|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
|July 31, 2012||Jason Bay||Day-to-Day||Bruised left calf|
|July 21, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 11, 2012||Dillon Gee||Day-to-Day||Bloot clot in right shoulder|
|July 08, 2012||Dillon Gee||15-Day DL||Blood clot in right shoulder|
|July 03, 2012||Kirk Nieuwenhuis||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|San Francisco Giants|
|July 31, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Strained right knee|
|July 25, 2012||Pablo Sandoval||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 17, 2012||Hector Sanchez||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
|June 26, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Strained neck|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Ronny Cedeno and Chris Young made the day a lot easier for Jason Bay , who calls playing left field in San Francisco during the day a nightmare.
Cedeno drove in five runs to match his career high, Bay had only his second multi-RBI game this year and the New York Mets beat San Francisco 9-1 Thursday to take three of four from the Giants and win their first series in a month.
"I'm seeing the ball well and trying to hit my pitch," Cedeno said. "I just want to be more patient and just see ball, hit ball."
Bay had two RBIs as Mets won for the fourth time in five games following a 2-14 slide. His only other multi-RBI game was April 13, when he hit a two-run homer against Philadelphia.
He was more concerned about playing defense.
"Every day game here is a nightmare," Bay said. "It's always been like this. You get the sun, it's windy and there are no clouds. You hope to get a big lead so you don't get one on the sun and blow it."
New York took a 4-0 lead in the first on Bay's two-run single and Cedeno's two-run double. Young took care of the rest.
David Wright had an RBI single in the second, and run-scoring singles by Bay and Cedeno made it 7-1 in the fifth. Cedeno had another two-run double in the seventh.
"This is the same team that went on a massive skid and came in here and took three of four from a first-place team," Bay said. "It is frustrating because it's there sometimes and it's not other times."
Young (3-5) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked none. He had been 0-4 with a 6.00 ERA in five starts since winning at the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 28.
"It was great to contribute to a win," Young said. "The guys set the tone early with all the runs. It gave me some room for error and allowed me to be aggressive."
Hunter Pence had a fourth-inning sacrifice fly for San Francisco, which has lost seven of eight since opening a three-game NL lead over the Dodgers on July 25. Melky Cabrera was a home run shy of a cycle.
"We've been awful here this last week," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're in a rut right now, and it's not fun. How we press on from here will determine our season."
Barry Zito (8-8) gave up seven runs, six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings. San Francisco pitchers walked six in the game and 19 in the series.
"I had a couple of quick outs and then a couple of walks and that was the difference," said Zito, who has a first-inning ERA of 8.10. "You have to bear down and put them away. I was fighting myself a little bit."
NOTES: The Mets had their largest victory margin since routing the Phillies 11-1 on July 3 as they took two of three in that series. ... All-Star R.A. Dickey (14-2, 2.83) goes for the Mets when they play a series opener at San Diego on Friday night. He will be appearing in his second game at Petco Park. ... The Giants are sending RHP Ryan Vogelsong (8-5, 2.22) to the mound in Colorado on Friday night. The NL ERA leader has never lost to the Rockies in 10 appearances. ... Young had last faced the Giants in 2009, when he was 3-0 against them for the Padres. ... Giants C Buster Posey , given the day off, has 19 RBIs since the All-Star break. ... The Giants activated RHP Shane Loux and C Hector Sanchez from the disabled list after optioning OF Justin Christian and C Eli Whiteside to Triple-A Fresno. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana , on the DL with a sprained right ankle, threw his first full bullpen session and it to throw another Sunday.