After Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Padres, Giants manager Bruce Bochy tabbed his starting pitching as the biggest culprit in his team's recent slide, in which they had lost 11 of their previous 14 games. He said the starters would have to get the team back on track after the rotation was a key component to a 42-21 start to the season.
Following a meeting involving Bochy, pitching coach Dave Righetti and the entire starting rotation, right-hander Tim Lincecum didn't waste much time reversing the staff's fortunes at least for an afternoon, throwing his second no-hitter in less than a year against San Diego on Wednesday.
"Our pitching staff as a whole has been scuffling," Lincecum said after becoming the second pitcher in Major League history to no-hit the same opponent twice. "I'm not saying I needed to do that, but to be a part of something like that was fun."
Ryan Vogelsong will take the mound for San Francisco on Thursday, hoping to build off Lincecum's success.
A strong stretch from late April through late May seems like years ago for Vogelsong, who has been tagged for 19 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings over his last five starts. His recent troubles have mirrored those of the entire starting rotation, which prior to Lincecum's no-hitter had the second-highest ERA (5.05) of any staff in June. Entering Wednesday, Giants starters had been roughed up for 72 earned runs in 128 1/3 innings.
And while Vogelsong has also struggled throughout his career against Cincinnati -- going 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA in 16 appearances (nine starts) -- AT&T Park has been kind to him. He's posted a 3.33 ERA in eight starts at home this season.
Vogelsong will be opposed by right-hander Mike Leake for the Reds. Leake is coming off one of his best starts of the season, when he allowed one run on four hits in eight innings against the Blue Jays last Saturday.
"He had his good command back," catcher Devin Mesoraco said of Leake after that outing. "He was able to get ahead, make a lot of quality pitches early in the count and let the hitters' aggressiveness kind of work to his favor and get some early outs."
Leake is 4-1 with a 4.38 ERA in seven career appearances (six starts) against the Giants, including his June 5 start against San Francisco, in which he surrendered five runs on eight hits over five innings.
Despite his troubles with the Giants, however, Leake looks to keep the Reds rolling. While San Francisco has tumbled in recent weeks, Cincinnati has been rising, having won 10 of its last 14 games after taking two of three from the Cubs in Chicago.
Reds: Phillips not guaranteed cleanup spot upon return
Brandon Phillips missed his third consecutive game on Wednesday with a bruised right heel. The second baseman went through a typical pregame routine each of the last two days and was originally in the lineup on Wednesday, only to be scratched more than two hours before the contest.
Mesoraco has hit in the cleanup spot in Phillips' absence, and he's been on a tear at the plate recently. He currently has an eight-game hitting streak and is batting .333 (12-for-36) with five home runs and 13 RBIs over that span. Mesoraco, who has gone 4-for-13 with two home runs and six RBIs while Phillips has been sidelined, had homered in five straight games -- tying a Reds record -- before seeing the streak end Wednesday.
Reds manager Bryan Price may just ride Mesoraco while he's hot and keep him in the cleanup spot even when Phillips returns.
"I don't want to be the guy that's constantly shuffling the lineup when things are going well for us offensively," Price said. "But with Brandon out, Devin's kind of seized that opportunity and performed in the four-hole. And at least until we get Brandon all the way healthy, then he could be there for that."
Giants: Panik adjusting to Majors
Shawon Dunston knows a thing or two about how to succeed in the Major Leagues. So when Dunston sat down to chat with Joe Panik at the 23-year-old's locker on Tuesday night -- after Panik committed two errors in the Giants' loss -- the infielder listened.
"He was telling me those are things that happen to everybody and basically just learn from them and move forward," Panik said Wednesday of his impromptu lesson from Dunston. "Shawon was a very successful Major Leaguer. Any advice I can get from him is great."
A little less than a week into his big league career, Panik has had no shortage of outlets for advice -- postgame discussions with Dunston, pointers from Michael Morse, whose locker is next to Panik's, and countless encounters with other teammates have all helped Panik quickly assimilate to his new surroundings.
"Guys have welcomed me with open arms and made the transition pretty easy," Panik said. "The guys understand what's going on. They've had success this season, so I'm going into a winning clubhouse.
"This is what you always dreamed about doing as a young kid -- to be able to live it has been pretty fun."
Playing before a packed AT&T Park has been an adjustment for Panik, who had grown accustomed to less-than-capacity crowds in the Minors. His first five games have yielded mixed results -- he is 2-for-13 at the plate with two walks and one RBI, and he has committed the two errors in the field.
• Lincecum's no-hitter on Wednesday was the second of his career. The only other Giants pitcher to throw two no-hitters was Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who did so in 1901 and '05.
• A handful of Giants have tormented Leake -- Tyler Colvin is 7-for-19 with four home runs and eight RBIs, Hunter Pence is 10-for-25 with a homer and three RBIs and Pablo Sandoval is 11-for-17 with a pair of homers and three RBIs against the right-hander.
• Billy Hamilton is 3-for-3 against Vogelsong, with all of those at-bats coming when he faced him on June 4. Todd Frazier is 3-for-7 (.429) with two home runs and three RBIs against the right-hander. Jay Bruce is 5-for-15 (.333) with a double, a home run and four RBIs. Ryan Ludwick is 4-for-7 (.571) with two RBIs. Skip Schumaker is 3-for-8 (.375).
• The Giants placed center fielder Angel Pagan on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and recalled infielder Adam Duvall from Triple-A Fresno. The 25-year-old Duvall was leading the Pacific Coast League with 23 home runs. He was also hitting .297 in 67 games for Fresno, ranking second in the PCL in RBIs (67) and slugging percentage (.620).
"I don't care where you are. That's a lot of home runs," Bochy said. "He has 'easy' power."
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.