Padres-Giants Preview

The San Francisco Giants have one more game before they send their ace to the mound with everything on the line.

The playoff-bound Giants will give rookie Chris Heston his first big league start Sunday at home when they conclude the regular season against the San Diego Padres.

San Francisco (87-74) is locked into the NL's second wild-card spot and will be the visitor Wednesday night against the second-place team from the Central Division - either St. Louis or Pittsburgh - when 18-game winner Madison Bumgarner takes the mound.

The Giants began preparing for that contest by leaving Hunter Pence out of the lineup in Saturday's 3-1 victory, ending his streak of 331 consecutive starts - which had been the longest active streak in the majors. He lined out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, though, extending his stretch of games played in a row to 382.

The All-Star outfielder, mired in a 4-for-51 slump, said he didn't necessarily want to sit but the Giants felt it would help, asking first if the streak meant something to him.

"That's meaningless stuff," Pence told MLB's official website. "The only thing that matters and the only thing that is real is who wins the World Series at the end of the year. There are some cool things to those accomplishments, but ultimately, there's nothing remembered more than a World Series champion."

Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey also did not start and it's unclear if they will play Sunday, though manager Bruce Bochy said the card will resemble his regular lineup. Posey is among baseball's leaders with a .353 batting average since the All-Star break.

Heston (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his third appearance since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno on Sept. 2. He has retired four of the five batters he's faced with two strikeouts, walking the other one.

The right-hander, a 2009 12th-round selection, went 12-9 with a 3.38 ERA in 28 starts for the Grizzlies. His nickname, earned because of his ability to induce groundball outs, is "Hesto Presto."

"He's had a good year at Fresno, so we'll get a better look at him," Bochy told MLB's official website. "I know it's been awhile since he's had a lot of time on the mound, but he'll get the start."

Brandon Crawford hit a two-run single with two outs in the eighth Saturday to snap a tie and help the Giants to their third win in nine games.

"The last thing we wanted was this thing to go extra innings," Bochy said.

San Diego (77-84) dropped to 10-8 this year against San Francisco, falling for just the third time in 10 games overall. Will Venable is 5 for 15 in this four-game series and Yasmani Grandal has a team-high seven RBIs.

The Padres will give the ball to Robbie Erlin (4-4, 4.53), who is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts since being recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 1. He is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last four big-league outings after turning in a four-inning, two-run stint in a 3-2 loss to Colorado on Tuesday.

The left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA in two starts against the Giants this year. Posey is 4 for 9 in his career versus Erlin.

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