SF@STL: Posey puts Giants up early with single

ST. LOUIS -- Catcher Buster Posey went 3-for-5 Sunday in a successful return to the Giants' lineup after missing three games with lower back tightness.

Entering the game in a 3-for-34 skid (.088), Posey singled in each of his first three at-bats before grounding out twice. His first-inning hit scored Angel Pagan and opened the Giants' scoring. Posey raised his batting average from .254 to .264.

Noting that Posey's condition had continued to improve, manager Bruce Bochy said that Monday's scheduled off-day will "give us some time to see how he comes out of [Sunday]."

Posey's return was timely, since the Giants lost their biggest bat when Michael Morse had to be scratched with a sore left foot.

Morse scratched with discomfort in left foot

SF@STL: Arias collects three hits, three RBIs

ST. LOUIS -- Lingering discomfort in first baseman Michael Morse's left foot forced the Giants to scratch him from Sunday's starting lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals and replace him with Joaquin Arias.

The switch made a considerable impact on the Giants' 8-0 victory.

Arias, who entered the game batting .138 with two RBIs, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. His first-inning single, which drove in two runs, was his first hit since May 9 and ended an 0-for-14 skid.

Morse, who leads the Giants with 11 home runs, 38 RBIs and a .574 slugging percentage, fouled a pitch off his foot during Saturday's 2-0 loss to St. Louis. He had started all but four of San Francisco's games.

Manager Bruce Bochy said that Morse's injury wasn't serious and expected the slugger to start Tuesday night's series opener at Cincinnati in left field, which requires less footwork than first base. Bochy added that Buster Posey likely will play first base, with Hector Sanchez catching.

Giants looking to change luck in Cincinnati

ST. LOUIS -- Fortunately for the Giants, they won the most important games that they've played recently at Cincinnati: The final three games of the 2012 Division Series, each of which they captured to overcome a 2-0 deficit.

Otherwise, the Giants' visits to Cincinnati, the next stop on their current trip, have bordered on being disastrous since 2010.

San Francisco has lost 10 of its last 11 regular season games at Great American Ball Park. They dropped the final two games of a four-game series there in 2010, were swept in three-game series in 2011 and 2013 and lost two out of three in 2012.

And it's not as if turning around a few close decisions would have made a big difference. During this stretch, the Giants have lost three times by one run, once by two runs, twice by three runs -- and four times by five runs or more.

"It's more of an aspect of them having a very good team, not that it's a certain ballpark," said Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who's scheduled to start Wednesday. "They just match up well with us."

It's worth remembering that even in their must-win 2-1 decision in Game 3 of the 2012 Division Series, the Giants scored their first run without benefit of a hit and needed a passed ball and a fielding error to tally their winning run in the 10th inning. "It could have easily gone in a different direction," Vogelsong admitted.