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LAD@SF: Gaudin sparkles over seven for the Giants

For the fifth time in franchise history and the first time since 2003, the D-backs won 50 games before the All-Star break and are first in the National League West.

Arizona, which led the division for the majority of the first half, entered the break with a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Los Angeles. The club is hoping that a strong second half will lead to a second division crown in three seasons, as it took the title in 2011, manager Kirk Gibson's first full season.

"We've had our ups and downs, but I don't think we've played our best baseball yet," starter Patrick Corbin said. "I think we're just going to get better and better as the season goes on."

The path to a division championship begins in San Francisco against the defending World Series champions.

The Giants at one point during the first half lost 34 of 51 games, but they finished on a positive note, winning three of four in San Diego. During that three-game winning streak, which was capped by Tim Lincecum's no-hitter, the Giants' bats awoke, with strong performances from the heart of the lineup.

"No matter what, in life there are always tough times," right fielder Hunter Pence said. "Those are things that help you grow stronger. There is no 'woe is me.' We have a blessed opportunity every day. That's something to be extremely grateful for, to be in this league and be able to play for the San Francisco Giants. History will show that these swings can flip really quick. ... Teams with the experience that we have keep pushing."

The last time the two teams met, the Giants won two of three in Arizona. Since the series ended, the D-backs have extended their lead over the Giants, from 1 1/2 to 6 1/2 games.

D-backs: Kennedy hopes to regain success in second half
As the D-backs hand the ball to Ian Kennedy to begin the half, they hope his struggles are behind him.

Kennedy is just 3-6 with a 5.42 ERA in 17 starts, including Sunday's loss to the Brewers, in which he surrendered five runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. The last time he won was on June 1, in Chicago.

Kennedy picked up two no-decisions against the Giants in April, allowing a total of five runs in 13 innings. His splits at home and on the road are nearly identical, with a 1-3 record and 5.46 ERA away and a 2-3 mark with a 5.40 ERA at Chase Field.

Giants: Gaudin to start first out of the gate
The Giants' uphill climb to claim a second straight championship begins with Chad Gaudin on the mound.

Gaudin, who moved into the rotation after Ryan Vogelsong was injured, has pitched admirably. Overall, he is 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in 24 games (six starts).

• Manager Bruce Bochy said after Sunday's 10-1 loss to the Padres that he wants to give Matt Cain an extra day of rest and provide an additional day for All-Star Madison Bumgarner as well.

• San Francisco will face Arizona 10 times during the second half, with seven of the matchups at AT&T Park.

Worth noting
• Bochy enters the series three wins from 1,500 in his career. Only 20 managers have accomplished the feat, and 12 are in the Hall of Fame. Among active managers, only Detroit's Jim Leyland and Cincinnati's Dusty Baker have more victories than Bochy.

• Miguel Montero's home run on Sunday extended the D-backs' streak of games with an extra-base hit to 79, the longest such streak in the Major Leagues.

• Friday's start will be Kennedy's eighth attempt at win No. 50 as a Major Leaguer. Comments