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Giants host Rockies with 5th consecutive home series win on mind

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants will be seeking to take a first step toward winning a fifth consecutive home series when they open a four-game set against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

The National League West rivals, both more than one-quarter through their schedule, will be meeting for the first time this season.

They also will square off in a three-game series in Denver later this month.

Right-handers Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.12 ERA) of the Rockies and Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.94) are set to duel in the series opener.

The Giants are coming off a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon, but had already clinched a series win by virtue of 10-7 and 5-3 victories the previous two nights.

The Giants have now won home series in succession from the Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Reds, winning nine of those 13 games.

Win or lose, each game against the Reds featured a home run by Giants first baseman Brandon Belt.

He'd also homered the last two times the Giants saw the Reds last May, giving him home runs in five consecutive games against Cincinnati.

The last Giant to hit home runs in five or more straight games against a single opponent was Barry Bonds in 2001 against the Padres.

"Honestly, right now, I'm just seeing the ball well," Belt explained, downplaying any role the Reds have had in his streak. "I'm recognizing which pitches are strikes and which pitches are not and making sure I do something with (the strikes)."

Samardzija hopes Belt's power display continues at the expense of a different opponent Thursday.

The right-hander pitched powerfully against the Rockies in two home starts last season, striking out 13 without walking a batter in 13 1/3 innings.

Samardzija is 4-5 against Colorado in his career with a 3.83 ERA in 15 games, including 11 starts.

The Rockies had a day off Wednesday following the split of a two-game series in San Diego to kick off a nine-game trip. But it was an important day for the ball club nonetheless.

Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu was scheduled to see a specialist in regards to a thumb injury he sustained Sunday against Milwaukee. He was placed on the disabled list after the game, but a lengthy stint away from the team remains a possibility.

The Rockies filled in with Daniel Castro and Pat Valaika in the San Diego series, with Castro belting his third career homer and his first as a member of the Rockies in Monday's 6-4 win.

Colorado manager Bud Black realizes the absence of LeMahieu, who hit .417 against the Giants last season with 30 hits in 18 games, probably outweighs whatever his two 25-year-old replacements can supply.

"They're going through growing pains, and you learn from these situations," Black said. "Even though the statistical performance is not there for some, they're growing as players, and they'll be better off for it."

Bettis has pitched four times previously in San Francisco, twice as a starter, going 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA. Overall, he's 3-4 against the Giants with a 4.50 ERA in 11 head-to-heads, including seven starts.
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