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ARI@SF: Hudson tosses eight strong to earn the win

The next few days will give the Giants a chance to legitimize their improvement from last year.

They're scheduled to face left-handed starters in the next four games: Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin of the Padres in the remainder of the current series, and Jorge De La Rosa and Franklin Morales in the first two games at Colorado on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The Giants are 4-3 in games started by left-handers this season. That's a small sample size, but it's more promising than the club's 24-31 performance in that category last year.

Expect catcher Buster Posey and left fielder Michael Morse, who rested before making unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearances in Friday's 2-1 loss, to return to the lineup. Both are right-handed hitters who should present a formidable challenge for lefties, though they'd be back no matter what pitcher San Francisco might face.

The Padres could welcome back a familiar face, too, to face Giants starter Tim Hudson. They're hopeful that third baseman Chase Headley will return to the lineup on Saturday after not starting the last three games.

Headley has been sidelined by a mild right biceps strain and his left knee -- the one he had surgically-repaired in October -- has also been acting up lately, though the team is hoping a new brace will help him return to the field.

Headley has been wearing a new carbon fiber brace on his left knee, a lightweight brace that is much easier to move around with than a previous model.

The Padres, who have totaled one more run than the Cubs, the big leagues' lowest-scoring team, need Headley's bat to come alive. He's hitting .222 in his first 54 plate appearances this season.

"Our averages have to come up. You look at our averages as a group. ... they're well below guys' career averages," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We're talking less than 60 at-bats. But we need to elevate those averages."

Headley, a switch-hitter, was able to take batting practice from each side of the plate before Friday's game and was able to play catch, testing the biceps.

Giants: What's on second?

Manager Bruce Bochy has indicated, and the allocation of playing time thus far has demonstrated, that Brandon Hicks is the Giants' primary second baseman.

But "primary" is different from "everyday." With Ehire Adrianza starting at second on Friday, one day after he went 3-for-3 off the bench against Los Angeles, it's apparent that Bochy will maintain his penchant for going with the hot hand at positions where no clear regular exists.

Going 4-for-9 with two doubles and a home run in his first four games rushed Hicks to the front of the line at second base, where he started the Giants' April 8 home opener. However, he has gone 2-for-13 in his past six games. The rest of San Francisco's offense also has sagged, prompting Bochy to jump at the chance to use the first player -- Adrianza, in this case -- who showed signs of life at the plate.

Hicks has started nine games at second base, compared to four apiece for Adrianza and Joaquin Arias.

Padres: Spangenberg hits the DL

Infielder Cory Spangenberg, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, has landed on the seven-day disabled list after suffering concussion-like symptoms sliding head-first into second base in a game on Tuesday playing for Double-A San Antonio.

Spangenberg, who is considered the Padres' No. 19 prospect by MLB.com, missed six weeks with a concussion in 2012, so the organization opted to err on the side of caution this time around.

Spangenberg was hitting .271 in his first 51 plate appearances at the time of his injury.

Worth noting

• Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia had two hits on Friday and now owns a .350 (63-for-180) batting average in 58 career games against the Giants, the best average among all Major Leaguers against San Francisco. He has multiple hits in each of his last three games dating back to Wednesday against the Rockies, tying him for the second-longest such streak of his career, behind only a four game multi-hit streak from August 14-17 last season.

• Giants closer Sergio Romo has not allowed a run in his last six outings. Opponents are 1-for-19 (.053) off him with eight strikeouts in this span.

• Rene Rivera owns a 1.07 catchers ERA in seven starts behind the plate this season, which is the lowest CERA in Major League Baseball among catchers with 50 or more innings behind the plate this season. Rivera narrowly missed a shutout on Friday as Brandon Belt homered in the ninth inning.

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