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Giants seek sweep of Reds; Harvey stands in way

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cincinnati Reds expect to have slugging first baseman Joey Votto back in the lineup Wednesday afternoon when they seek to end a two-game losing streak in their series finale against the San Francisco Giants.

Recently acquired Matt Harvey is slated to make his second start for Cincinnati, hoping to pick up where he left off in his Reds debut Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After struggling so badly for the New York Mets that they designated him for assignment, prompting a trade to the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco, Harvey retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced in Los Angeles, allowing one one hit.

He was pulled with a 3-0 lead after four innings, having thrown 55 pitches, and did not qualify for a win in the 6-2 victory.

Votto sat out Tuesday's 5-3 loss at San Francisco with what he labeled as very minor back soreness. He claimed the injury occurred during a mild earthquake centered near Oakland that barely shook the ballpark during his first-inning at-bat in Monday's 10-7 loss to the Giants.

"I was feeling pretty good and then that earthquake hit and all of a sudden everything got thrown off," Votto tried to sell on reporters. "I'm fine."

The Giants are finer, having clinched their fourth straight home series win with Tuesday's come-from-behind triumph. Five relievers combined to shut out the Reds on two hits over the final five innings to make the comeback possible.

Hours before substitute closer Hunter Strickland recorded his ninth save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced good news about the guy who's supposed to be finishing games for him, Mark Melancon.

The veteran's recovery following a stem-cell injection into his right pronator in April has gone so well, he has been scheduled to pitch a live batting practice session Thursday, with hopes he can accept a minor league rehab assignment next week.

It's possible he could make his season debut by the end of the month.

As it turns out, that could be sooner than staff ace Madison Bumgarner, who is slated for a second bullpen session Wednesday.

Bochy announced Tuesday a slightly more conservative schedule for Bumgarner than the one he had alluded to Monday, saying the left-hander has been tentatively slated for four minor league starts before the club will consider promoting him.

Bumgarner hasn't pitched in the regular season after getting hit with a line drive in his final spring training appearance, a blow that broke a bone in his left hand.

The Giants' victory Tuesday had a memorable moment when Brandon Belt's fourth-inning home run landed in the San Francisco Bay beyond the right field pavilion, the eighth "Splash Hit" of his career.

He's now tied with Pablo Sandoval on the Giants' all-time list in the 19-year history of AT&T Park, trailing only Barry Bonds, who accomplished the feat 35 times.

Belt, Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey all have home runs in their careers against Harvey, who has never beaten the Giants in three starts (0-2, 5.68).

The Giants' Andrew Suarez (1-2, 4.57 ERA) will oppose Harvey. The rookie has never faced the Reds.