Wild Card-leading Giants hit the road

Wild Card-leading Giants hit the road

SAN FRANCISCO -- Having experienced the euphoria of their 5-1 homestand that was capped by a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies to capture a share of the National League Wild Card lead, the Giants must shift their attention to the harsh realities of the road.

The Giants' 44-21 home record clashes with their 28-38 mark on the road, which is where they're headed beginning Tuesday as they open a three-game series at Philadelphia. That will be followed by three more games at Milwaukee.

San Francisco has improved marginally on the road in August, finishing 7-7. The Giants took two of three games at Houston before posting a 5-6 mark on a three-city jaunt. But their current excursion will test their newfound competence.

The Giants have lost 10 of 13 games at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park since 2005. They're 4-14 at Milwaukee's Miller Park since 2006, including 1-2 this year.

Maybe it's somewhat fitting that Jonathan Sanchez will start Tuesday's series and trip opener for the Giants. Sanchez has never pitched in Citizens Bank Park; why not seek a clean slate with a hurler who has one himself?

Though Sanchez's overall road statistics look unimpressive (2-8, 4.81 ERA), he's 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his past three outings away from home.

Moreover, Sanchez defeated the Phillies on July 30 at AT&T Park, where he allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings as the Giants triumphed, 7-2.

Pitching matchup
SF: LHP Jonathan Sanchez (6-10, 4.27 ERA)
Dating back to his July 10 no-hitter against San Diego, Sanchez has fashioned a 4-2 record with a 3.02 ERA in nine starts. Opponents have hit .168 (33-for-196) off him in that span, the best figure among all Major League pitchers. This will be his seventh career appearance and third start against Philadelphia. He's 1-0 with a 4.60 ERA in his previous six outings against the Phillies.

PHI: LHP Cole Hamels (7-8, 4.52 ERA)
Hamels had not been himself for much of 2009, but he looked like his old self Wednesday in a 4-1 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park. He threw eight shutout innings. He allowed seven hits and two walks and struck out seven. Time will tell if it was just a one-start thing or the beginning of something good heading into September and October, when Hamels shined last year in the playoffs. "I have the stuff to be here," Hamels said. "I have the stuff to succeed. I have the stuff to succeed in the postseason. Why was I getting carried away trying to be somebody else I'm not?"

Tidbits
Not surprisingly, all six of the Giants' series sweeps this season have occurred at AT&T Park. ... When Barry Zito struck out the side in Saturday night's first inning, it marked the first time he had done that since July 29, 2001, against Kansas City. ... With his double in Sunday's second inning, Fred Lewis increased his pinch-hitting average to .360 (9-for-25), third-highest in the National League behind Colorado's Seth Smith (.486, 16-for-33) and teammate Nate Schierholtz (.419, 13-for-31). ... Matt Cain has gone seven consecutive starts without a victory, the second-longest such streak of his career. He twice endured eight winless starts in a row (May 19-June 29, 2007 and Aug. 25-Sept. 27, 2008).

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• CSN-BA

On radio
• KNBR 680

Up next
• Wednesday: Giants (TBA) at Phillies (J.A. Happ, 10-3, 2.63), 4:05 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Giants (Tim Lincecum, 13-4, 2.33) at Phillies (Pedro Martinez, 2-0, 4.50), 4:05 p.m. PT
• Friday: Giants (Barry Zito, 9-11, 3.94) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 12-10, 3.56), 5:05 p.m. PT

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.