Matt Cain finally failed.
After 18 consecutive scoreless innings, the $112.5 million man gave up a run Tuesday. And another and another.
Three in all over 6 1/3 innings. Technically, that’s a quality start. Realistically, it was a letdown.
Cain (1-1) was coming off a masterful duel against Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee, but he wasn’t the same in a 9-2 loss in Cincinnati. He gave up a two-run homer to Brandon Phillips in the first inning and was good after that — until the Reds scored six runs in the seventh inning, a rally that began on Ryan Ludwick’s homer off Cain.
That’s all Cain allowed. Reliever Dan Otero was charged with the remaining runs in the inning, and another in the eighth.
Cain put himself in a hole by throwing 38 first-inning pitches. Fellow starter Tim Lincecum has been clobbered in first innings this year, but it was Cain who labored Tuesday.
Cain, who signed a lucrative contract extension on the eve of the season, was nothing like the guy who nearly threw a perfect game against the Pirates and battled Lee scoreless inning after scoreless inning, but he did throw scoreless ball from the second to the sixth.
That sort of momentum is something he can take into his next start.
MLB Team Report - San Francisco Giants - NOTES, QUOTES
—3B Pablo Sandoval singled in the ninth inning, extending his season-opening hit streak to 17 games, a San Francisco franchise record, breaking Willie Mays’ mark of 16 in a row, reached in 1960. The record for the New York Giants was 18, set by Johnny Rucker in 1945.
—2B Freddy Sanchez is 3-for-7 with three RBI through his first two games of a rehab assignment for Class A San Jose. He served as the designated hitter Monday and Tuesday. Sanchez has been struggling with his throwing while trying to recover from right shoulder surgery performed last August. He’s expected to spend two weeks in the minors before rejoining the big-league team.
—1B Aubrey Huff remains absent. He missed his second game because of personal reasons, and manager Bruce Bochy said it’s a legitimate excuse. It’s possible Huff could be placed on bereavement leave so the Giants could temporarily replace him on the roster.
—RHP Nate Schierholtz had a quieter Tuesday than Monday, when he got six hits in a doubleheader sweep of the Mets. On Tuesday in Cincinnati, he was 0-for-4. The last Giant to collect three hits in both ends of a doubleheader had been Tito Fuentes in 1973. Fuentes has been part of the Giants’ Spanish broadcast team.
—C Buster Posey had a pitch fly behind him while he was batting, an apparent purpose pitch from Reds RHP Sam LeCure, retaliating for RHP Dan Otero plunking Joey Votto during a six-run seventh inning. Manager Bruce Bochy popped off about the incident, saying Otero has been a big-leaguer only briefly and wasn’t trying to hit Votto, adding of the LeCure pitch, “That’s how people get hurt. Here’s a guy (Posey) we lost for a long time last year, and he gets a ball thrown at his kneecap.” Posey’s retaliation? A two-run homer off LeCure.
—LHP Barry Zito will try to make it four straight solid starts when he faced the Reds on Wednesday. He’s 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA. Will he keep posting special numbers? In his career against Cincinnati, he’s 3-4 with a 7.47 ERA.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 — Games in which the Giants have scored at least four runs. They’ve scored fewer than four runs just four times.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Obviously, he’s a big part of this team. We hope everything’s all right, but we’ve got a job to do when we get to the park,” — C Buster Posey on 1B Aubrey Huff, who has missed two consecutive games for personal reasons.