PHOENIX, AZ - The San Francisco Giants have played well over .500 against fellow NL West teams this season, a big reason they have opened up a large lead for first place in the division.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the one team to give the Giants trouble and they hope that is the case again on Friday in the opener of a three-game series.
The Giants are 32-21 against their division this season, though that includes just a 5-7 mark versus the Diamondbacks. Still, the success has been enough to give San Francisco a 10-game advantage over third-place Arizona and a 7 1/2- game edge over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks do still have fleeting playoff hopes as they trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 4 1/2 games for the NL's second wild card spot.
San Francisco lost two of three at home to Arizona from Sept. 3-5, but followed with series wins over the Dodgers and Rockies, winning for the fourth time in six games on Wednesday with an 8-3 triumph at Colorado.
Marco Scutaro had three hits, drove in two runs and scored twice, while Tim Lincecum put together another encouraging outing by yielding three runs and striking out eight over six innings to win his fifth straight road start.
"He has really elevated his game," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. "He's gotten on track, which is huge for us. Some of the other guys have had some hiccups and he has picked us up."
Bochy has been able to count on Matt Cain each time out and the owner of a perfect game this season draws the start for this opener.
Cain is 13-5 with a 2.96 earned run average through 28 starts this year, but has not factored into the decision of his past three outings.
He pitched well against the Dodgers on Saturday, yielding two runs over 7 1/3 innings, but he allowed the trying run to score on a wild pitch.
The 27-year-old righty is 11-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 25 lifetime meetings with the Diamondbacks and earned a win the last time he faced them, hurling six innings of one-run ball.
Arizona comes into this series having won five of seven, including a 3-2 triumph over Los Angeles on Wednesday. Justin Upton drove in two runs and Trevor Cahill gave up two runs in the first inning but nothing else over the rest of his seven-frame outing.
"I was just throwing strikes and trying to go after them," Cahill said after striking out seven and retiring the final 16 Dodgers faced.
Tyler Skaggs draws his fifth career start versus the Diamondbacks tonight and has not earned a decision in his last two starts, both Arizona losses.
The 21-year-old last pitched on Friday at the San Diego Padres and gave up five runs on five hits and a walk while lasting just three innings. He is 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA over his initial four starts.
"I felt like I had good stuff today ... felt like I threw the ball well," Skaggs said. "Just a couple mistake pitches ... a couple balls that were blooped in and just wasn't my best today."
The left-hander will face the Giants for the first time.
The Sports Network