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HOU@SF: Bumgarner fans 12 in win over Astros

As the Astros and Giants return from their All-Star breaks, both squads will be looking to reverse a string of losses -- one trying to stay out of the bottom of its division, the other trying to win it.

An extra-inning loss to the Brewers on Sunday gave the Astros 10 losses in the final 11 games before the break, sinking them to the bottom of the National League Central. The Giants lost five games in a six-game road swing that concluded the first half, costing them a lead in the NL West that they enjoyed briefly at the end of June.

"We'll take where we're at right now," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his team that is right at the heels of the division-leading Dodgers. "This is what you play for, to be right in the thick of things at this point, and we are."

A stronger second half may not lead to a playoff berth, but could still go a long way toward boosting the future prospects of a talented young Astros team.

"There are adjustments we have to learn simply because we have such a young club," Houston manager Brad Mills said.

Madison Bumgarner will take the hill for the Giants to open the second half after struggling in his last outing, allowing seven earned runs in five innings against the Nationals on July 4.

"It's going to happen," Bochy said after the 9-4 loss. "I don't care if it's [Matt Cain] or Bum. They're going to have their [bad] moments."

Wandy Rodriguez will start for the Astros six days after beating the Brewers in his final start of the first half. In that outing, Rodriguez held Milwaukee scoreless over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two.

Giants: Offense seeking timely hitting
The Giants hit .225 with runners in scoring position in the first half, second worst in baseball, a statistic they will need to improve upon as they head toward fighting for a playoff berth.

"I think we have the talent here," Bochy said. "If you look at what we're hitting, the guys we're getting on base, the opportunities we're creating, we should be able to score four-plus runs a game."

• Melky Cabrera finished one hit shy of Rich Aurilia's team record of 120 hits before the All-Star break.

Astros: Maxwell expected to be activated for second half
Outfielder Justin Maxwell is expected to return for Friday's game after being on the disabled list since June 26 with loose bodies in his left ankle. He is currently on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma.

"If he's healthy and everything, we'll have to make a decision with him after the break," Mills said.

Worth noting
• The Giants won the lone series between the two squads this season, 2-1, which included Matt Cain's perfect game on June 13. Comments