After dropping seven of eight to conclude a homestand, the San Francisco Giants are looking forward to getting out of town.
What appears to be a favorable matchup against a former teammate could help them get back on track.
The Giants will take their swings against the Colorado Rockies' Jonathan Sanchez, who tries to avoid losing a career-worst sixth consecutive start Friday night in the opener of a three-game set.
San Francisco (56-49) saw its NL West lead cut to one-half game Thursday after a 9-1 loss to the New York Mets. Melky Cabrera had three hits but the rest of the club went 1 for 25 - including an 0-for-2 effort from recently-acquired Hunter Pence. Pence drove in Cabrera on a sacrifice fly for the team's only run but is 0 for 6 in his first two games with the Giants.
"A lot of times when you think you are going into a rut, you try to press and do too much," losing pitcher Barry Zito said. "That's when you get farther in it. As a team, we have to trust ourselves. We've been on top most of the season and we just have to be ourselves."
The Giants have been outscored 45-19 while batting .204 during their 1-7 skid, but might be able to pick up the pace at hitter-friendly Coors Field. San Francisco has hit 15 homers while taking six of its last seven road matchups with Colorado (38-65).
"We've been awful here this last week," manager Bruce Bochy said. " ... We have to get it going. Hopefully we can hit the road and get it going again."
While scheduled starter Ryan Vogelsong (8-5, 2.22 ERA) has been superb against the Rockies, the Giants have to like their chances of regrouping all the more given Sanchez's woes. The left-hander is 0-8 with an 8.74 ERA over 13 starts since winning his season debut.
Sanchez (0-2, 11.88 in NL) spent the first six years of his career with San Francisco before getting shipped to Kansas City in exchange for Cabrera last offseason. The Royals dealt him to Colorado for Jeremy Guthrie on July 19, though the latest change in scenery hasn't made much difference.
Sanchez has allowed 11 runs over 8 1-3 innings in his two starts since joining the Rockies. He's compiled a 12.81 ERA while losing each of his last five outings overall.
"His velocity has backed up two miles an hour from when I last saw him in San Francisco, and I think some of that is attributable to his struggling with command," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said.
Barring a sudden turnaround, Sanchez could have a hard time going toe-to-toe with Vogelsong, who is 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA in five starts versus the Rockies.
Vogelsong has allowed one earned run in each of his last three starts overall but took the loss Sunday in a 4-0 defeat to the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander allowed six hits and three walks over six innings.
Vogelsong now faces a Rockies team that had lost five straight overall and a season-worst seven in a row at home before salvaging Thursday's series finale against St. Louis with an 8-2 victory. Rookie shortstop Josh Rutledge went deep for the fourth consecutive game while Wilin Rosario added a pinch-hit homer.
Rutledge has hit safely in all but three of his 18 games since getting called up July 13, going 27 for 72 (.375) with five homers and 14 RBIs. He has a chance to become the first rookie to homer in five straight games since Minnesota's Marty Cordova from May 16-20, 1995.
"I'm just getting some good pitches to hit, and trying not to overswing and just let my hands work," Rutledge said. "It's getting some extra carry on the ball."