By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) — The San Francisco Giants are struggling at the plate, and that’s especially true with runners in scoring position.
They may not need to produce much offense for Madison Bumgarner.
With the bats scuffling, Bumgarner looks to continue his dazzling stretch as the Giants face the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
San Francisco (50-62) is hitting .243 while dropping 12 of its last 19 games, but the reigning World Series champion has a collective .209 average with runners in scoring position over that stretch.
It’s been even worse of late, with the Giants batting .125 in the scenario while losing three of four.
Those offensive shortcomings were on display in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Milwaukee, as the Giants stranded eight runners and went 1 for 9 with them in scoring position.
“We’ve been in position to win so many of these games. We’ve got to have somebody come through for us and that was missing again,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s running rampant right now throughout the lineup. It’s hit us as a club as a whole and it’s been here for a while.”
San Francisco won 4-2 on Monday despite going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position to open this four-game series Monday, and Bumgarner (11-6, 2.69 ERA) could again help overcome those struggles.
The left-hander has allowed two or fewer earned runs while pitching at least seven innings in each of his last nine starts, the second-longest such streak in franchise history since records are available, behind the New York Giants’ Ferdie Schupp’s 12 in 1916-17.
Bumgarner, though, battled through 112 pitches Friday, yielding one run with a season high-tying 11 strikeouts in seven innings of a 4-1 win at Tampa Bay.
“Any time you’re able to battle through when you don’t necessarily have the command you’re used to having, it makes it a tougher kind of battle,” Bumgarner said. “You’re going to have games like that.”
He’s 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA in five career starts versus Milwaukee (48-65), winning the last two at home while yielding two runs in 14 2-3 innings.
Buster Posey is a lifetime .361 hitter with 17 RBIs in 17 career meetings with the Brewers after going 1 for 3 while being hit by a pitch Tuesday. However, he’s batting .200 over the past 15 games while going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
Milwaukee is expected to activate Marco Estrada (4-4, 5.32) from the disabled list and start him in place of Tom Gorzelanny, who injured his left elbow Friday when he was hit by a line drive in a 4-1 loss to Washington.
Estrada has been out since June 3 with a strained left hamstring, and he allowed nine runs and 14 hits in eight innings over three rehabilitation starts in the minors.
While the Brewers are at the bottom of the NL Central, the right-hander feels there’s plenty at stake.
“My job,” Estrada told the team’s official website. “I mean, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. It’s been two months since I’ve pitched. I’ve got to show them I can still do it. I’ve been keeping up with guys and I see that everyone is pitching really well now. Obviously, I’ve got to fight for my job, and hopefully, they like what they see.”
Estrada’s only career start versus the Giants ended after one inning on May 23, 2012, when he injured his right hip running out a double.