No offense to National League clubs, but they're simply not the New York Yankees.

Forget those "just another game" clichés. Young Giants starter Noah Lowry will take the mound to face the Yankees for the first time in his career Sunday afternoon, and Lowry is sure he will savor the Interleague matchup.

"It's more than just another start, I would say," Lowry said. "It's definitely something that I'm looking forward to. It's not every day that you get a chance to face those guys."

The Giants host the Yankees for a three-game set at AT&T Park, beginning with a Matt Cain-Kei Igawa showdown on Friday night. That will kick off a 10-day, nine-game hoestand for San Francisco.

The Giants have squared off against the Yankees just once in the 10-year history of Interleague Play, when New York took two of three in 2002.

Barry Zito will not take the mound against the Yankees, but he's the one Giants starter who has faced them extensively in his career. Zito went 3-9 with a 5.20 ERA in 16 career starts for the Athletics against New York.

Zito found it much more intriguing pitching in Yankee Stadium, with the rich tradition surrounding the ballpark.

"The history of it is cool, but you don't really feel it as much when they're in your ballpark, though," Zito said.

Matt Morris has started two games against New York, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. Cain will also be facing the Yankees for the first time in his young career.

The potent Yankees offense surely will present a stiff challenge to the Giants hurlers. The Bronx Bombers ranked third in the Majors with 380 runs scored entering Wednesday's games.

Before Wednesday's action, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter ranked third and fourth in the American League with batting averages of .344 and .341, respectively. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez had blasted his way to an MVP-caliber season with 27 home runs and 73 RBIs.

"Looking at that lineup and what they bring to the table, it's going to be fun," Lowry said. "I consider it one of the ultimate challenges facing those guys, because there are no holes in that lineup, and you've got to be sure you're on top of your game. I'm looking forward to it."

Zito had a simple piece of advice for his fellow starters.

"You've got to be aggressive," Zito said. "Don't be intimidated. Don't try to be perfect.

"Don't pitch to a name," Zito added. "Just pitch to the hitter that's up there."

Lowry said he doesn't plan to approach Sunday's start any differently from his other ones: Simply get the first out of the inning, and things can't go that badly after that, he said.

Besides, pitchers always hold the advantage whenever they face batters for the first time, Lowry said. No matter how much video footage a batter watches, he still has to hit the pitch when it hurtles toward him at the plate.

"Those guys don't necessarily know what you bring to the table," Lowry said. "Even if they know you've got a slider, or they know you've got some kind of breaking pitch or this and that, they still don't know exactly what it's going to do until they get in the box."

Pitching matchup
SF: RHP Matt Cain (2-7, 3.15 ERA)
The luckless Cain has watched his teammates get shut out in his last two starts. Naturally, he lost both of them, despite allowing only one run in each. The Giants have scored two runs or fewer in nine of Cain's 14 starts, explaining his lopsided record. The 22-year-old remains capable of imparting late movement upon his fastball, although his control has occasionally been a problem (44 walks in 91 1/3 innings).

NYY: LHP Kei Igawa (2-1, 7.63 ERA)
Igawa is back in pinstripes. The left-hander showed better command of his changeup while pitching in the Minor Leagues, enough to persuade the Yankees to give him another shot in the rotation. In four starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilks-Barre, Igawa compiled a 2-2 record and 2.88 ERA. He struck out 27 and walked seven.

Player to watch
Yankees hitters may not be too familiar with Cain and Lowry, but Bobby Abreu seems to have Morris' stuff figured out. The Yankees outfielder is hitting .348 (8-for-23) with two home runs and five RBIs against Morris.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• KTVU-HD

On radio
• KNBR 680, KLOK 1170 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Giants (Matt Morris, 7-4, 3.21) vs. Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 7-4, 3.33), 12:55 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Giants (Noah Lowry, 6-6, 3.74) vs. Yankees (Mike Mussina, 3-4, 5.10), 1:05 p.m. PT
• Monday: Giants (Tim Lincecum, 2-2, 5.88) vs. Padres (TBD), 7:15 p.m. PT