Continued from page 1

The Giants got a big boost from Madison Bumgarner in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over the Cubs, which snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided a three-game sweep.

Manager Bruce Bochy can only hope the strong day by his hitters will “send some confidence throughout the lineup.”

Bumgarner did his part, and now San Francisco has its top three pitchers lined up to face the D-backs: Cain on Friday night, then Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong.

“It’s going to be close, maybe not make-or-break but it’s the biggest series we’ve got so far,” Bumgarner said.

Arizona wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Rockies with a 4-2 win Wednesday night.

Gibson surely will stick with what has been working.

“Whoever we put out there, whoever we put at a position, I think we have a belief that we expect to win,” he said. “Not that we will every day, but we understand that our competitors have to respect us. There’s no overconfidence, but an expectation. The preparation has been excellent. They’ve been on board with every different thing that we’ve tried in preparing, and it’s worked out well.”

For the Giants, it has been a different story.

Many of those “castoffs and misfits” _ as Bochy so fondly called them _ who won over the fans last September have faltered: Aubrey Huff, NLCS MVP Cody Ross, Mike Fontenot. Burrell just returned from a strained right foot that sidelined him for 43 games.

This year, Carlos Beltran came aboard at the trading deadline from the Mets and he has been a disappointment. He spent time on the DL with a wrist and hand injury.

San Francisco lost reigning NL Rookie of the Year catcher Buster Posey to a season-ending broken leg after a May 25 home-plate collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins. Then, sure-handed second baseman Freddy Sanchez was done for the year after labrum surgery on his right shoulder last month.

During the club’s recent 4-6 road trip, San Francisco placed five players on the DL and six others missed time with injuries.

That has made for a lot of mixing and matching by Bochy to piece his lineup together each day.

“The one trait that all these guys have that I really appreciate, especially this year even though it’s been a haywire year, is they come in wanting to play,” Sabean said. “They try to get ready to play. They put their work in. It’s not an easy situation. The juggling act has been very difficult, maybe because we’ve been moving pieces or maybe because nobody’s been good enough to hold onto a job or stay consistent enough to be established in the lineup.”

On some days, they flat out can’t score. There are missed chances with runners in scoring position, or else costly mistakes.

Story Continues →