The bottom two teams in the National League West will meet at Petco Park on Thursday, as the San Diego Padres open a four-game set with the visiting San Francisco Giants.
The All-Star break cannot come soon enough for both clubs, as San Diego has lost 11 of its last 12 games, while San Francisco has dropped 13 of 15. Despite each team's massive struggles of late, they both still trail division-leading Arizona by only 6 1/2 games.
The defending World Series champion Giants fell to 10 games under .500 for the first time since 2008 following Wednesday's 7-2 home loss to the New York Mets. The offense managed only three hits off Mets rookie starter Zack Wheeler, who was drafted by the Giants in 2009 and traded to New York in 2011.
"It seems like everything is going wrong," said losing pitcher Matt Cain, who exited after only two-thirds of an inning. "We're not pitching, we're not fielding and we're not getting hits. This is a pretty bad skid and we need to find a way out of it."
Meanwhile, San Diego is looking to rebound from Wednesday's 5-4 setback to the Colorado Rockies. Padres starter Andrew Cashner went five innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits.
"We've got to find a way to get over that little hump," third baseman Chase Headley said. "We're never going to quit playing. That's what we've come to expect from our guys. ... We are going to keep playing and give ourselves a chance."
Despite watching his offense average a mere 2.6 runs over its last 12 games, Padres manager Bud Black remains confident things will turn around for his club.
"The guys come in every day ready to play," the skipper said. "I don't see any bad signs during our at-bats or giving at-bats away. I'm not seeing fundamental plays not being made in the field."
For Thursday's series opener, Black will give the ball to Jason Marquis, who is still seeking his 10th win of the season. In four starts since collecting win No. 9, the veteran right-hander has gone 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA. In his last outing, Marquis gave up three runs on eight hits and walked three against the Nationals, although he came away with a no-decision after the bullpen crumbled.
For San Francisco, Madison Bumgarner takes aim at his third win in as many starts. The left-hander is coming off an impressive showing against the Dodgers on Saturday, as he yielded only two runs on three hits in seven innings. He also notched nine strikeouts to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions.
The Giants took two of three from the Padres when these teams last met June 17-19, although that was the last time San Francisco won a series.