Complete coverage of the 2014 season

Series Preview: Padres vs. San Francisco Giants

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There’s just one more leg left on the Padres’ 10-game, 6,219-mile road trip, but it’s a doozy. Next up is a jaunt to NorCal to play the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants, winners of four straight.

    The Padres are coming off a weekend split against the Washington Nationals, but got good news with the return of outfielder Cameron Maybin. They’ll try to build on Sunday’s win, as well as a series victory over the Giants last week. It won’t be easy as they roll into AT&T Park, a place where they lost seven of nine last year.

    The Padres will be without second baseman Jedd Gyorko for at least the first game of the series, as he went on the paternity list to be with his wife while they have twins. Tommy Medica was called up from El Paso in his absence.

    When they play: The series runs tonight through Wednesday, with three night games starting at 7:15 p.m.

    What’s at stake: The Padres – who trail by 3 ½ games – could do themselves some big favors in the standings by picking up at least a game on the division leaders. More importantly, they just want to hit the ball. The team ranks last in runs scored (189), second-to-last in home runs (13) and 27th in batting average (.222).

    Who is pitching: The Padres kick things off with Tyson Ross (2-3, 3.16 ERA), who had been rolling until giving up five runs over six innings in his last start. The Giants counter with Madison Bumgarner (2-2, 3.14) trying to snap a two-game losing streak.

    Tuesday’s game features Padres starter Eric Stults (1-2, 4.15) against supposed Giants ace Matt Cain (0-3, 4.35). Cain is still looking for his first win after three good starts and two very bad starts, including 10 hits and seven runs allowed in six innings against the Rockies.

    In the finale, Robbie Erlin (1-3, 6.35) tries to get back on track after giving up 15 earned runs over his past three starts – all losses. He battles a hot Tim Hudson (3-1, 2.19), owner of four quality starts in his first five outings.

    Who to watch: All eyes will be on Maybin, at least for his first few games back. The veteran outfielder will be called upon to pick up the workload for an offense that has been anemic at best for much of the first month of the season. He started off well, doubling and scoring a run on Sunday.

    Chris Denorfia carries a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s gone 11-for-28, raising his season batting average to a team-leading .338. He also leads the team with nine (count ‘em) RBIs.

    Everth Cabrera has six hits in his last five games.Angel Pagan has four hits in his last three games to lead the Giants with a .333 batting average and four stolen bases. Brandon Belt is second in the NL with seven homers, although he just finished a weekend series where he went 0-for-12 with nine strikeouts. Ouch.

    Pablo Sandoval is finally starting to show signs of life after a putrid start to the season. He had three hits over the weekend to raise his average to .180.

    And watch out for the Giants pitchers at the plate. Bumgarner is 3-for-7 with a home run and Cain is 3-for-10 on the season.

    What’s next: After an off day on Thursday, the Friars finally return home for 10 straight. It starts with a three-game set against the Arizona Diamodbacks on Friday night. That game will be the team’s Spring Beerfest as well as Teacher Appreciation Night.

    Matthew Wood covers the Padres for #OnFriar. Reach him at matthew.wood@nbcuni.com and follow him on Twitter @mcarloswood.

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