MLB Insiders - San Francisco Giants

Paul Maholm

The Pirates begin a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday night. Lefty Paul Maholm will pitch for the Bucs. The Giants will counter with right-hander Tim Lincecum.

Tim Lincecum hopes to give his slumping San Francisco Giants a much-needed boost Monday night against the Pirates, whom he'll try to shut down for the second time in 11 days as the teams open a three-game set at AT&T Park.

These teams combined for only 12 runs as Pittsburgh took two of three from the visiting Giants to open the second half from July 17-19. The series began with a duel between Lincecum and Paul Maholm (6-4, 4.63), who will square off again Monday.

Maholm matched Lincecum on July 17, striking out seven while allowing an unearned run and four hits over eight innings, but he struggled Wednesday against Milwaukee. The left-hander gave up seven runs - including his fifth and sixth homers of the season - in 4 2-3 innings but the Pirates came back to win 8-7.

Maholm, who is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in five starts against the Giants, is 3-3 with a 5.77 ERA on the road this season.

Could the Giants have two starters go 1-2 in the Cy Young race?

Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are both viable candidates so far, and Lincecum is the defending Cy Young winner. Dan Haren leads the league with a 2.14 ERA, but Cain is just behind Haren and Chris Carpenter (2.26), with a 2.27 mark.

Cain told the San Francisco Chronicle that "there's no way not to think about" the Cy Young race at this point, but he noted that there are still a lot of games left and probably a good 13 starts.

Lincecum, the All-Star Game starter, leads the league in strikeouts, with 168. According to the Chronicle, Lincecum said during the spring that he'd be happy to lose the Cy Young to Cain.

"Oh God, yes," Lincecum told the newspaper. "That would be great."

Lincecum is starting Monday against the Pirates and he is attempting to earn his first career victory against them.

ROCKIES 4, GIANTS 2: Ryan Sadowski, a rookie who was one of the team's better stories before the break, didn't last three innings on Sunday. He is 0-3 with a 10.32 ERA since not allowing a run in either of his first two big-league starts. The Giants went 3-7 on their just-completed road trip.

NOTES, QUOTES

--OF Aaron Rowand might have an MRI on his bruised right forearm on Monday if it has not improved significantly. Rowand, hit by a pitch a week ago by Atlanta's Tommy Hanson, has limited mobility in the arm. Entering Sunday, he had had two pinch-hitting appearances since being hit and went 0-for-2.

--RHP Tim Lincecum will start against the Pirates on Monday coming off a start at Atlanta in which he went five innings, just the second time this season he'd lasted only five and the first time was on Opening Night. Lincecum is 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA against Pittsburgh, but he has stuck out 18 and walked only two in his 13 innings worked against the Pirates -- while allowing three homers.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4.81 -- Ryan Sadowski's ERA after he gave up eight runs in 3 2/3 innings to the Braves and three more in 2 2/3 innings to Colorado. His ERA in his first three big-league starts was 1.00.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "More than anything, I thought I'd gotten over the point of being in Fresno. I guess they didn't see that." -- Infielder Kevin Frandsen, after his latest demotion to Class AAA Fresno.

ROSTER REPORT

--C Bengie Molina had thrown out six runners in seven games entering Sunday. Opponents have stolen a big-league high 58 bases against Molina this year, but Molina has thrown out 16 men overall, tied for the most overall in the National League. Over the past three seasons, Molina has thrown out 65 potential base stealers, the third most in the majors in that span.

--1B Jesus Guzman, batting .400 in July with a 26-game hitting streak at Class AAA Fresno, could get a look soon in San Francisco. "We're talking," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'll talk to Brian. I'll discuss it with the staff on the plane on the way back and see what we can do to get this thing going again." According to the Chronicle, the Giants are also looking at some trade possibilities, including Cleveland's Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko.

MEDICAL WATCH:

CF Aaron Rowand (bruised right forearm) left the July 20 game. He didn't start July 21-26, though he pinch-hit twice in that stretch.

SS Edgar Renteria (sore right elbow) did not play July 22-24. He returned to the lineup July 25.

INF Rich Aurilia (infected right big toe) went on the 15-day disabled list July 21.

LHP Randy Johnson (strained left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list July 6. As of July 23, he had yet to resume throwing.

RHP Kelvin Pichardo (strained right shoulder) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list June 29.

RHP Joe Martinez (concussion, hairline fractures in skull) went on the 15-day disabled list April 10, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 21. He began a minor league rehab assignment June 25. His rehab assignment was extended when he was slowed by a sore elbow.

LHP Noah Lowry (left forearm surgery in March 2008, left elbow surgery in September 2008) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 24. He had surgery May 19 to remove a rib, and he is likely out for the season.

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