Mike Leake is still seeking his first victory since moving to San Francisco, and even if the wins start coming now, it might be too late for them to be relevant in the way the Giants had hoped at the time of the acquisition.
Nevertheless, the Giants will try to complete a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres on Sunday at AT&T Park as Leake tries to make it a full five-game spin in the rotation of impressive pitching.
Madison Bumgarner threw a one-hitter in Saturday's 8-0 win and was four outs away from a perfect game, giving the staff a 1.29 ERA and .142 opponent batting average over a 3-1 span. The Giants (74-68) have given up a run and five hits in the first two of the series and have won four in a row against the Padres (67-76).
"The stars have to be aligned for guys to pitch games like that," said Melvin Upton Jr., who had San Diego's only hit.
Brandon Belt homered for the first time in 28 games to give him a new career high of 18, and Marlon Byrd is hitting .583 in his last six.
The Giants have won five of seven while scoring 5.6 runs per game and batting .310, but the problem is that the teams ahead of them keep winning. The Los Angeles Dodgers have widened the NL West gap to 7 1/2 games while winning 14 of 18, and the Chicago Cubs are up 8 1/2 for the second wild card with wins in seven of nine.
San Diego has dropped three straight and 14 of 20 after getting within a game of .500 on Aug. 22. It's now in danger of falling 10 games under for the first time since July 10. Over a 2-7 span, the Padres are averaging 2.9 runs and batting .211.
Leake (9-8, 3.70 ERA) was the last San Francisco starter to greatly struggle, giving up six runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings of Monday's 6-1 loss in Arizona for his worst start with the Giants. He fell to 0-3 with a 4.31 ERA in five starts for his new club.
"He just made some mistakes," manager Bruce Bochy told MLB's official website. "He missed his spots more than he usually does."
Even when the right-hander has pitched well, he's been shorted offensively with a 1.72 run-support average.
The San Diego native hasn't pitched against the Padres this season but is 0-2 with a 3.07 ERA in five career starts. Justin Upton is 6 for 14 with a home run off him, but Alexi Amarista is 2 for 11.
Leake was supposed to be up against Colin Rea, but the right-hander was scratched from what would have been his seventh MLB start because of elbow and forearm discomfort. Odrisamer Despaigne will start instead after making his last nine appearances in relief.
Despaigne (5-8, 5.65) will start two days after giving up four runs and five hits on 46 pitches in two innings of Friday's 9-1 loss to the Giants, so it could be a bullpen-heavy day. The right-hander last started in a 10-1 loss at Milwaukee on Aug. 6, surrendering seven runs and nine hits over five innings.
Against San Francisco, he's 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven appearances, including 10 runs in his last seven innings. Buster Posey, however, is 0 for 13 in their matchups.
The Giants remain without double-play partners Brandon Crawford (calf, side tightness) and Joe Panik (back). Crawford is said to be the closer of the two to returning.