The Cincinnati Reds' pitching staff has toyed with the San Francisco's scuffling offense over the last two games, which bodes well for more of the same this weekend. Alfredo Simon eyes his National League-best 11th victory on Saturday as the Reds look to continue their recent mastery of the Giants in San Francisco. Mike Leake fanned a career-high 12 in Thursday's 3-1 series-opening win and Johnny Cueto followed by allowing only three hits over 8 1/3 innings in Friday's 6-2 victory.
Simon, who had 17 career victories to his name before this season - mostly in relief - is tied with St. Louis' Adam Wainwright for the NL lead in wins and can match the New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka for the most in the majors with another one on Saturday. Cincinnati, which has won nine of its last 11 in San Francisco, is 12-4 over its last 16 contests and surging at the same time the Giants are fading. Thanks to losses in 13 of their last 17, San Francisco has watched its lead in the NL West shrink from 9 ½ games on June 8 to two games less than three weeks later.
TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), CSN Bay Area
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Alfredo Simon (10-3, 2.92 ERA) vs. Giants RH Matt Cain (1-6, 4.82)
Although he missed out on collecting his fifth victory in as many starts, Simon continued to add to his potential All-Star Game resume despite settling for a no-decision in Monday's 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. The 33-year-old Dominican permitted one run on five hits and a walk over seven frames and has yielded three runs or fewer in 13 of his 15 turns in 2014. Simon, who is 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA in nine road outings, has yet to earn a decision in three career relief appearances against the Giants.
Cain's recent struggles continued in his most recent outing, a 6-0 loss to the offensively-challenged San Diego Padres on Monday. The three-time All-Star struck out seven, but surrendered six runs and seven hits over 7 1/3 innings to the lowest-scoring team in the majors and has allowed 18 runs (17 earned) in 17 1/3 innings over his last three starts. Cain last faced the Reds in the regular season on June 29, 2012, taking the loss in a 5-1 setback to fall to 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 all-time starts against Cincinnati.
1. San Francisco C Buster Posey is batting .364 with 11 extra-base hits in June after hitting .254 with 10 extra-base hits over the first two months of the season combined.
2. Including the postseason, Todd Frazier is batting .462 during a 14-game hitting streak against San Francisco.
3. The Giants have scored two runs or fewer in nine of Cain's 12 starts this season.
PREDICTION: Reds 5, Giants 1