In danger of falling back to .500 for the first time in nearly three months, the San Francisco Giants are looking for any kind of a spark. They might get one with a return of one of their top hitters.
San Francisco (38-37) has kept its head above water for much of this season but six losses in nine games have put the Giants on the verge of dropping to .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 on April 7.
They also dropped three of four to major league-worst Miami in their most recent series and had an eight-game homerless drought until Hunter Pence 's solo shot in a 7-2 loss Sunday.
"We need a lift right now," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bochy's club might get just the boost it needs with Sandoval set to come back from a foot injury. Despite not playing since June 8, the third baseman is tied for second on the team with eight homers and his 37 RBIs are third-most.
Sandoval also homered in each of the final two days on his rehab assignment at Class-A San Jose.
"He's a big bat, presence in the lineup. Hopefully he'll take a little pressure off the other guys trying to do too much," Bochy said. "Any time you're missing a guy that's hitting in the heart of the order it does make it a little tougher. Hopefully he will spark this lineup."
In his return, Sandoval will try to help deny the Dodgers (32-42) their first three-game win streak since a home sweep of Pittsburgh from April 5-7 and lead his team to a sixth consecutive victory in the series.
The Giants will have the right pitcher on the mound in Madison Bumgarner (7-4, 3.25 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his last three starts and hasn't allowed a run in each of his past two against the Dodgers.
He's given up six hits, struck out a combined 16 and walked none during that 16-inning streak, which includes a 3-0 win at Dodger Stadium on April 2.
Bumgarner outdueled Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3, 2.96) in that game and the rookie left-hander is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA in his two starts against the Giants. Even stellar performances wouldn't have earned him wins as he was given zero runs of support in both games.
Ryu heads into this start having given up three runs or fewer in seven consecutive outings but had a three-game win streak snapped with a 6-4 defeat at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Hanley Ramirez will try to aid Ryu by adding to a torrid stretch. The shortstop is 11 for 22 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last six games and hit a solo shot in Sunday's 3-1 win over San Diego.
"This win was a big one for us. We needed to split the series and build some positive momentum. I'm glad we were able to do that," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said.
Ramirez, though, is a career .219 hitter against San Francisco - his worst showing against any NL team - and is 1 for 11 all-time versus Bumgarner. Gonzalez, who has homered in back-to-back games, is 2 for 14 against the left-hander.
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||10||.300||3||0||1||0||1||.300||.700||.400|
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 18, 2013||Brandon Crawford||Day-to-Day||Left game - Sprained right index finger|
|June 11, 2013||Marco Scutaro||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hand injury|
|June 09, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||15-Day DL||Strained left foot|
|June 09, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||15-Day DL||Strained left foot|
|May 28, 2013||Angel Pagan||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 26, 2013||Angel Pagan||Day-to-Day||Mild hamstring strain|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|June 12, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Strained shoulder|
|June 11, 2013||Scott Van Slyke||15-Day DL||Left shoulder bursitis|
|June 08, 2013||Ted Lilly||Day-to-Day||Neck discomfort|
|June 07, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 05, 2013||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Neck sprain|
|June 05, 2013||Mark Ellis||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- One by one, Los Angeles Dodgers opponents are learning the perils of challenging Yasiel Puig .
The rookie sensation hit his seventh home run in 20 major league games and added a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning against Madison Bumgarner , leading the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.
"Yasiel is a phenomenal talent right now," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "The league's trying to figure him out and they're trying to see what the best way to approach him is. But he's making them go back and scratch their heads a lot, because he's hitting everything and hitting it hard. I'm just really happy he's on our side. The way he plays the game is just infectious, and the energy he brings to our lineup is something that was sorely missed.
Nick Punto , who replaced third baseman Juan Uribe in a double switch, led off the eighth with an opposite-field double down the right-field line. Mark Ellis sacrificed Punto to third and reached safely when Bumgarner threw high to first for an error.
Puig greeted George Kontos with a line-drive single to left that scored Punto.
"He's someone who really thrives in the moment," A.J. Ellis said. "One of my best friends in baseball is the Double-A manager for the Diamondbacks, Andy Green . And when I called him and asked him what he thought about Puig, the thing that impressed him the most was that Puig never shied away from the big stage. It seemed like his best at-bats in a game came in the late stages and those clutch situations. And we're seeing that right now. There's no secret that he loves the spotlight."
Hanley Ramirez drove in the final run two batters later on a liner toward the middle that shortstop Brandon Crawford knocked down with a lunging attempt before getting the out at first.
Kontos was recalled from Triple-A Fresno before the game, while Jean Machi was sent back to the Giants' Pacific Coast League club. Kontos was optioned to the minors on June 11, the day he received a three-game suspension for throwing at Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen . But since he is appealing the penalty, Kontos is eligible to play until his case is heard by Major League Baseball.
Paco Rodriguez (2-2) got two outs and Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for his fifth save.
The Dodgers' third straight victory tied their longest winning streak this season, which came back in early April. This was their ninth attempt at matching it.
"We've been trying to get over this three-game hump for a while, so it was important for us to break through today," A.J. Ellis said. "We just want to carry the momentum into tomorrow."
Bumgarner (7-5) was charged with three runs - two earned - and five hits in seven-plus innings with five strikeouts in his 100th big league start. The 23-year-old left-hander engaged in another tense duel with Hyun-Jin Ryu in a rematch of their April 2 meeting, when Bumgarner spoiled the Korean-born lefty's major league debut with eight innings of two-hit ball and retired 18 consecutive batters during a 3-0 win at Dodger Stadium.
Ryu allowed a run, eight hits and four walks in 6 2-3 innings. He was lifted by manager Don Mattingly after Buster Posey reached second on a fly to right field that Puig was just about to catch when his backside made contact with the auxiliary scoreboard and the ball fell behind him. The play was originally ruled an error, then changed to a double by official scorer Don Hartack.
Ronald Belisario then came on and struck out Hunter Pence .
The Giants began a 10-game road trip with a familiar face back in the lineup: Pablo Sandoval was reinstated from the disabled list Monday after missing 14 games because of a left foot strain. He went 2 for 4.
Puig drove a 1-1 pitch the other way into the lower seats in the right-field corner with one out in the first.
"It's pretty amazing the way he handles that ball away," A.J. Ellis said. "He loves to extend those arms and he's got so much power, foul pole to foul pole. It's another thing that makes him such a rare talent."
The home run ended Bumgarner's 16-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers, and was their only hit until Puig's two-out single in the sixth.
"I feel like every pitch I made to Puig, I threw where I wanted to and just mixed it up on him," Bumgarner said. "He got me the first at-bat and I didn't expect him to do that. He's obviously good, or else he wouldn't be doing what he's doing. It's going to take everybody a couple of times facing him to see what he's trying to do. I think it's pretty clear what he's trying to do, but it's just a matter of seeing him a few more times."
The Giants tied it in the second inning with an RBI double inside third base by Andres Torres that scored Joaquin Arias from first base - but Arias strained his left hamstring on the play and came out of the game.
Crawford, who replaced Arias at shortstop, flied out with the bases loaded to end the third after Ryu got a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt .
The Giants had the bases loaded again in the fifth, but only because Posey slipped and fell rounding third base on a one-out single by Sandoval before scampering back to the bag. Crawford followed with a comebacker to Ryu, who calmly threw to the plate to begin an inning-ending double play.
"He realizes the key situations of the game, and when he needs a groundball and when he needs a strikeout," A.J. Ellis said. "I mean, this guy's pitched on the world's stage forever, and he's had bigger games than this and was representing a lot more people than just us. It was a great performance by him to keep us in the game. Getting that big double-play ball from Crawford on the comebacker, that was the biggest at-bat of the game."
NOTES: Puig was 3 for 4 in his first game against the rival Giants. ... Pence was 2 for 2 with a walk against Ryu, and has six hits in eight at-bats against the lefty overall. ... Ryu is 0-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts since beating the Angels 3-0 with a two-hitter for his first major league complete game.