The San Francisco Giants could not build on some much-needed momentum generated by a no-hitter from one of their veterans.
Facing Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto might add to their current overall struggles.
The major league ERA leader looks for another solid outing while trying to help the Reds continue their surge Friday night against the Giants, who hope Madison Bumgarner can continue his recent success on the mound.
After pounding out 11 hits while Tim Lincecum tossed his second career no-hitter during Wednesday's 4-0 victory over San Diego, San Francisco (46-33) managed four in eight innings off Mike Leake in a 3-1 loss to Cincinnati (40-38) a night later.
Losers in 12 of 16 overall and nine of 11 at home, the Giants face a tough task against Cueto (7-5, 1.86 ERA).
The right-hander has allowed five runs - three earned - while striking out 22 in 20 innings to go 2-0 in his last three starts. He gave up an earned run and struck out eight in eight innings of a 4-3 win over Toronto on Sunday.
"He's good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's in a different class."
Despite a modest record, Cueto is being mentioned as the possible NL starter for next month's All-Star Game - and he isn't afraid to offer his opinion on the matter.
"I'm always going to say I'm the best pitcher," he told MLB's official website. "I'm never going to say somebody is better than me."
Cueto is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in four regular-season starts against the Giants but has not faced them since 2012. The last time he did was Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS at San Francisco when he threw eight pitches before leaving with back spasms.
Including the postseason, Cincinnati has won eight of 10 at AT&T Park.
Buster Posey is 3 for 4 against Cueto, and batting .474 (18 for 38) with seven doubles in his last 11 contests.
Posey had two of San Francisco's five hits against the Reds, who have won two in a row and 11 of 15. Jay Bruce had three hits and Brandon Phillips homered Thursday as Cincinnati won for the seventh time in 10 road games.
Bruce is batting .444 (12 for 27) in his last seven games, and including the playoffs, he has a .475 average during a 10-game hitting streak at San Francisco.
Teammate Todd Frazier is batting .438 during a 13-game regular-season hitting streak against the Giants.
Bruce, however, is 1 for 14 during the regular season and playoffs against Bumgarner (9-4, 2.63).
The left-hander is 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his last six starts after allowing an unearned run, two hits and striking out seven in eight innings of a 4-1 victory at Arizona on Sunday.
"I think he's an All-Star," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's one of the elite pitchers in the game."
Bumgarner pitched like an All-Star when he allowed a homer to Frazier and two other hits in eight innings of a 6-1 victory at Cincinnati on June 5.
The Associated Press News Service
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