Giants-Reds Preview

Hunter Pence is back, and the same could be said of the San Francisco Giants' offense.

They may not need to do much with Chris Heston getting the ball.

Heston aims to build on his first complete game - and the only one by a member of the Giants - as the club goes for its longest road winning streak over the Cincinnati Reds in nearly a decade Sunday.

San Francisco (19-18) ranks near the bottom of the majors with 26 homers and 3.68 runs per game, but the team may be capable of changing that with Pence returning to action.

The Giants had season highs of 16 hits and three homers while pounding Cincinnati 11-2 on Saturday. Pence, second on the team last year with 20 homers and 74 RBIs, went 2 for 3 with a double and three runs in his first game since breaking his left forearm when he was hit by a pitch March 5.

"It's just nice to have him back and have his energy in the dugout and on the field," shortstop Brandon Crawford said. "To have him flying around the bases like that, it's fun to watch."

Pence, who has a .429 average during a 12-game hitting streak against the Reds, helped San Francisco top its previous season high in scoring, set a day earlier in a 10-2 win over the Reds (18-19). The Giants' five homers in the last two games match their total over the previous 11.

Crawford had one of them Saturday, connecting for a grand slam and driving in a career-high six runs. While Crawford has five hits and seven RBIs in the last two games, Brandon Belt is 6 for 10 with two homers, six RBIs and five runs.

Another offensive outburst in the finale of this four-game set could give San Francisco three straight wins at Cincinnati for the first time since Aug. 15-17, 2005.

Heston (3-3, 2.91 ERA) is likely to be a factor, as he's allowed one or no earned runs in five of his seven starts since replacing the injured Matt Cain (forearm) in the rotation.

"I just pound the bottom of the strike zone," Heston told MLB's official website. "Everything below the knees, really. Anything above the knees is probably up."

The right-hander retired the last 22 batters on his way to a two-hitter in an 8-1 win at Houston on Tuesday. He became the first Giants rookie to throw a complete game since Cain's one-hitter in 2006 and the first to do it with 10 strikeouts since Roger Mason on Oct. 4, 1985.

Heston is facing the Reds for the first time, and they're hitting .128 with runners in scoring position at home - 4 for 41 while splitting the last eight games. They went 1 for 9 in that scenario while stranding 11 runners Saturday.

Joey Votto is 2 for 12 with four strikeouts in this series and is batting .146 over the past 12 home games.

Anthony DeSclafani (2-3, 2.79) also is struggling, going 0-3 with a 4.71 ERA and 14 walks in 21 innings over his last four starts. The right-hander allowed three runs and seven hits and left trailing after the sixth inning Tuesday in a 4-3 win over Atlanta.

DeSclafani has never faced the Giants.


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