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Giants' Samardzija faces Pirates amid trade rumors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Veteran right-hander Jeff Samardzija will take the mound amid trade rumors Wednesday afternoon when he pitches for the San Francisco Giants against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Samardzija's name hadn't been as popular in trade speculation this month as that of teammate Eduardo Nunez. On Tuesday night, the Giants dealt their third baseman to the Boston Red Sox for minor league pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.

Now the eyes of scouts who stick around for the series finale in San Francisco can focus on Samardzija, who was acquired at the trade deadline by the Oakland Athletics from the Chicago Cubs in July 2014 under similar circumstances.

Samardzija (4-11, 5.05 ERA) will start Wednesday's game as the second-losingest pitcher in the majors. However, he has allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of his past 16 starts after a disastrous April in which his ERA topped out at 7.40.

Giants players weren't surprised to see Nunez go. It's the business of baseball, Tuesday's winner Madison Bumgarner insisted, when a team is in last place.

"This organization's got to do what they think is best for us," he said. "We all enjoyed having Nunie here. It's good for him to get in a playoff race."

If the goal is for Samardzija to raise his stock Wednesday, the Giants could benefit from the Pirates being the opponent.

He has fashioned a fine 2.91 ERA and 5-4 record in 24 games (13 starts) against the Pirates in his career, including getting the win in a 5-3 victory at Pittsburgh on July 2. He allowed two runs in six innings that day.

Samardzija will be opposed to Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams, who has pitched most of his best ball this season on the road.

Williams (4-4, 4.74 ERA) has won three of his past four road decisions, and he has limited the home team to three or fewer runs in five of his past six road outings.

Williams opposed Samardzija in the July 2 game in Pittsburgh, not getting a decision after allowing two runs in six innings. It was his first career start against the Giants.

The Pirates will be attempting to rebound from an 11-3 thumping at the hands of San Francisco on Tuesday night. The result evened the three-game series at a game apiece.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle left the ballpark in a surprisingly upbeat mood after the drubbing, the result of having watched the performance of left-handed reliever Steven Brault.

Asked to save the bullpen in a mop-up role, Brault threw three innings of shutout ball.

Along the way, he got a rare opportunity to bat twice. He singled and lined out to right field in his first two at-bats of the season.

"Steven was having a blast," Hurdle said. "We needed the length, and he gave it to us."

There were negatives to the blowout defeat, however.

The loss ended Pittsburgh's seven-game winning streak in San Francisco that dated back to the 2014 season. Also, the Pirates did not homer in the game, ending a six-game streak at AT&T Park.

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