In early June, San Francisco swept four games from Chicago at AT&T Park -- while scoring a total of 11 runs. The Cubs pushed across only six.
The National League West-leading Giants will bring that staff -- ranked fifth in the NL in ERA -- to Wrigley Field for a three-game set starting Friday afternoon. Madison Bumgarner will take the mound for the opener, followed by Tim Lincecum on Saturday and Matt Cain on Sunday.
"That pitching staff is one of the tops in baseball, and that's with Lincecum having a tough year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We have three guys coming in who will be tough to score runs on, especially [Friday] with Bumgarner.
"We have to put the best team on the field. You're trying to put the best team on the field, especially against the teams that are in first place and do the best you can against those guys."
The Cubs started Thursday ranked 15th in the NL in batting average, OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and runs scored. Although they scored 12 runs in Thursday's comeback victory over the Brewers, the Cubs also have plated two or fewer 11 times in posting a 7-21 August record.
"It's not good when everybody in the lineup is struggling at the same time," Sveum said.
The Giants have started their six-game road trip 3-0 against Houston and have won eight of 10 overall.
Bumgarner will oppose Chris Volstad looking to replicate the performance he produced on June 1 in San Francisco. The Giants lefty held the Cubs to two runs on eight hits, walked none and struck out 11.
Giants: A rare hiccup for Bumgarner
Impeccable control has been a staple of the 23-year-old Bumgarner's early-career success, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 4-to-1.
That wasn't the case Saturday, when Bumgarner (14-8, 2.93 ERA) tied a career high with four free passes against Atlanta, giving up four runs in 6 1/3 innings. It was only the third four-walk game of his career and came after a stretch of nine total in his previous eight outings.
Aubrey Huff likely will be reinstated from the disabled list when active rosters expand Saturday. The 35-year-old, who hasn't played for the Giants since July 30, is hitting 148 in 34 games this season but is hoping to contribute off the bench down the stretch.
Cubs: Volstad free from "huge monkey"
Volstad could breathe a sigh of relief Sunday, when he held the Rockies to three hits over six scoreless innings. Not only did the right-hander improve his 2012 record to 1-9, he earned his first victory with the Cubs and snapped a 24-start winless streak, going back to last July 17, when he was a member of the Marlins.
Sveum said he will continue to "mix and match" at third base, but admitted that Luis Valbuena -- who started Thursday -- might get more playing time going forward. Josh Vitters, promoted from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 5, is hitting .093 with 19 strikeouts.
"We're just giving Vitters some time to kick back here now and see what happens," Sveum said. "You're trying to evaluate, but you're trying to win ballgames at the same time. We're having trouble scoring runs, period, so the at-bats -- Valbuena is getting on base, he's swinging the bat well, playing good defense."
This series will be the teams' final meeting of the season.
Volstad owns a 6.28 ERA for the season, but a 3.82 mark in his five August starts.