Strong pitching and power hitting is an age-old recipe for success, and few have done both better recently than the San Francisco Giants. The Giants, winners of five straight and nine of 10 entering Monday's series opener against the host Pittsburgh Pirates, held the Atlanta Braves to one run in each of the three games during their weekend sweep and have allowed three runs or fewer in each of their last eight wins. San Francisco also has homered in 11 straight games and 20 times over its last 10 contests.
Brandon Crawford provided the long-distance fireworks in Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Braves with two home runs to give the Giants 41 for the season - the second-highest total in the majors. Pittsburgh fell short in completing its first sweep of 2014 as it dropped a 7-2 home decision on Sunday to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Pirates, who have lost 16-of-22 since winning six of their first nine, have fared very well in series openers, going 7-3 (including 5-0 at home).
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (San Francisco), ROOT (Pittsburgh)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants RH Yusmeiro Petit (2-1, 2.61 ERA) vs. Pirates LH Jeff Locke (2013: 10-7, 3.52)
With Matt Cain landing on the disabled list Sunday with a cut on his index finger, San Francisco is expected to turn to Petit for his second straight spot start in place of the three-time All-Star. The 29-year-old Venezuelan made eight relief appearances prior to Tuesday's 6-0 victory against the San Diego Padres in which he allowed three hits and did not walk a batter over six frames. Petit hasn't squared off against the Pirates since 2009 but is 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA against them in four career outings (two starts).
With Wandy Rodriguez (knee) requiring more time on his rehab assignment, Locke is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis in time to make his first start of the season. The 2013 All-Star, who went 0-2 with a 5.04 ERA in five minor-league outings despite a 27-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, went 1-5 with a 6.66 ERA over his final 11 starts last year and was left off the postseason roster. Included in that dismal stretch was his only career outing against the Giants on Aug. 22, when he yielded three runs on five hits and four walks over four innings.
1. The Giants swept the Braves despite going hitless in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the series, which is believed to be the only such occurrence in the majors in at least 40 years.
2. Pittsburgh has dropped 13 in a row when scoring three or fewer runs.
3. The Giants recalled RHP Jake Dunning from Triple-A Fresno on Sunday to fill Cain's roster spot.
PREDICTION: Giants 3, Pirates 2