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CIN@CHC: Simon allows just one run over seven frames

When it comes to their opposing pitcher, the degree of difficulty doesn't lessen much for the Giants on Saturday.

On Friday the Giants and their struggling offense faced Johnny Cueto, owner of the Majors' lowest ERA. On Saturday they'll face right-hander Alfredo Simon, who has a 2.92 ERA and is one of just two 10-game winners in the National League.

Sunday's starter for Cincinnati, Homer Bailey, no-hit San Francisco last July. After that the Cardinals -- who have the Majors' third-lowest team ERA -- visit for a three-game series. But when a team loses 13 of its last 17 and musters just nine runs in its last five, said team needs to focus on one game at a time.

Such is the reality for the Giants, especially with an All-Star-caliber pitcher opposing them. Simon put together yet another strong outing in his most recent start, on Monday, allowing just one earned run on five hits in seven innings vs. the Cubs. That lowered his ERA to 2.92, further helping his case to make the All-Star Game.

Simon, with 17 career victories to his name before this season, has been a revelation in 2014. That makes him the antithesis of his counterpart on Saturday, Matt Cain.

Cain, himself a three-time All-Star is in the middle of his worst season. Through 12 starts he is just 1-6, with a career-high 4.82 ERA. His command has gone missing, and that's been reflected on the scoreboard. In his last three starts, he's given up 17 earned runs on 20 hits in 17 1/3 innings.

Not helping matters is the fact that the Giants have scored just two runs or fewer in nine of those 12 starts.

Giants: Posey a bright spot at plate
Buster Posey's resurgence has been one bright spot in what's otherwise been a tough June for San Francisco.

The team is 10-13 for the month, but its star catcher has regained his All-Star form. Posey has hit safely in 20 of 23 June games, good for a .364 average over that span. He's also hit 11 extra-base hits in June after recording just 10 in April and May combined.

"He's been on a nice little roll here. Through our offensive struggles, it's good to see Buster swinging the bat the way he is," manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday night's game.

That plate success was perhaps best displayed in the ninth inning of Thursday night's loss, when Posey smacked the first pitch he saw from the Reds' flame-throwing closer, Aroldis Chapman, for a double.

"That's a tough matchup for anybody, but he got a good pitch to hit. He didn't take it," Bochy said. "He's a hitter that's in a groove right now."

Reds: Hamilton staying aggressive
It's not exactly breaking news that Billy Hamilton has stop-what-you're-doing-and-watch speed. There's no denying his quickness, but his decision-making has sometimes been questioned, and it was again during the first two games of the series in San Francisco.

On Thursday night, Hamilton was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a popup 10 feet outside the infield, and on Friday he was picked off first base. Even so, his style isn't changing one bit.

"It's always my call," Hamilton said on Friday about the play on Thursday. "I always think I have a chance. I saw [Giants second baseman Joe Panik] backpedaling, I saw him going back, stumbling and not under the ball, so I thought maybe ... I had a chance with him going backwards."

Hamilton is second in the Majors with 33 stolen bases in 42 attempts, so his gambles are hard to argue with.

Manager Bryan Price understands the risk-reward nature of the spectacle, and he doesn't want Hamilton to change his approach.

"It's a knife that cuts both ways. You don't want to ... lose his aggressiveness," Price said Friday. "Yet you want him to learn when to [go] and when not to.

"We talk about Billy because he makes those plays so frequently. It's a learning experience. I don't think we can really [rein him in] too tightly, or we're going to lose a little bit of what is so special about him."

Worth noting
• The Giants are 2-10 in their last 12 home games and have been outscored, 60-36, during that stretch.

• Joey Votto will likely return to the Reds' lineup on Saturday after sitting on Friday in his first night off since returning from the disabled list (strained left quad). Votto had started all 16 games since his activation on June 10. He is 1-for-13 on the road trip, and Price was looking to get him a break.

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