Matt Cain has struggled mightily, making it time for Bruce Bochy to make a switch. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Cain no longer able, but does Bochy have nerve to pull him from rotation?

Can’t beat good teams. Can’t win at home. Can’t win close games. Can’t hit in the clutch. Can’t pitch in the clutch …

Well, add this to the Giants’ laundry list of problems — can’t find even a semi-dependable fifth starter.

Just when it appeared the Giants would finally beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and avoid a three-game sweep on Wednesday, Matt Cain gagged on the fifth inning. Again. The 6-5 gut punch was their 21st loss in 30 games since the All-Star Break, the absolute worst record in the major leagues in that span.

Credit Cain with the loss and manager Bruce Bochy with a blown save in this one.

Cain entered the game with a monstrous 14.81 era in the fifth inning this season. Opponents hit .491 against him. So when the Pirates threatened to wipe out a 4-0 deficit in the fifth inning — sound sirens here — Bochy should have been on the top step of the dugout.

Wrongo. It wasn’t until the bases were loaded with two outs that Jake Peavy finally got up in the bullpen. With a full count on the batter.

True, Bochy called on three relievers the previous night, but if ever was a time to draw a line in the dirt, this was it. Sure enough, Cain walked home a run. At that point, left-handed pinch-hitter Matt Joyce was sent to the plate, a situation that screamed for southpaw Javier Lopez to face him. Nope. Joyce stroked a two-run single before a sacrifice fly tied the score. Finally, Lopez began to warm up.

One out later, Andrew McCutchen unloaded a two-run homer before Cain headed to the showers after a six-run, 38-pitch nightmare. Four batters too late.

“I thought [Cain] had enough to get him,” Bochy said to reporters. “But it didn’t happen.”

At $20.8 million, Cain is the highest-paid player on the team. Among the most respected as well. Understandably, team management wants to squeeze every last drop out of the 31-year-old, but he’s hell on the bullpen. With a playoff berth no longer a gimme, it’s time for a change. Does the manager have the guts to do it?

SLOW DOWN, BUSTER: Other than Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey is the guy whom this team can least afford to lose.

So why were Posey and his bum back in the lineup one day after a night game?

Clearly, Posey is the worse for wear right now, although to his credit, the numbers don’t show it. It’s painful to watch him run the bases. On Tuesday, he turned a drive to Triples Alley into a double. One day later, he barely scored from first base on a hit to the same spot. According to the metrics geeks, it took 11.8 seconds for him to lumber three bases, his slowest rate of the season.

In the ninth inning, with the bases loaded, Posey bounced into a double play that he would have beaten out not long ago.

It’s hard to sit Posey at any time. He hits lefties and righties. He also hits with runners on base, which is rare on this team. Furthermore, the team ERA is nearly one-quarter run lower when he’s behind the plate.

But unless the Giants spit the bit in the next couple or three weeks, it’s imperative that Posey be available down the stretch. Because too much of backup Trevor Brown can be hazardous to your team.

CONNECT THE DOTS: Ever since Bochy passed over McCutchen for a spot in the 2011 All-Star Game, the Pirates’ outfielder has owned the Orange and Black — 35 games, .368 batting average, five homers, 22 RBI.

LOCO COCO: Thirty-six-year-old has-been Coco Crisp accused the Athletics of some “shady” business as it concerns the $13-million vesting option in his contract, but who stole from whom exactly?

Co-owners Billy Beane, John Fisher and Lew Wolff have always been addicted to the bottom line. That’s how they became so dirty rich. But Crisp didn’t mention that he was paid $11 million to hit .175 and zero home runs in 44 games last season. The rest of the time he nursed owies in his elbow and neck.

In 14 seasons prior to this one, Crisp was paid $60.7 million even though he played 130-or-more games in only five of them. Now that he has to take part in at least that many games to get his money, he wants to be Cal Ripken Jr. all of a sudden.

Crisp should be content to sit his butt on the bench and collect paychecks while the rest of us work for a living.

SAME OLD SAME OLD: No doubt Niners fans would be more excited if they had signed ESPN host Sam Ponder instead of her husband Christian instead.

Ponder joins quarterbacks Plain Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, the 10th, 12th and 36th picks in the 2011 NFL draft. also known as Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Pay Attention To The Combine.

JUST ASKIN’: Christian ponder? Isn’t that what Tim Tebow does when he has a thought?

THE LIST: Former Oregon quarterbacks who Niners coach Chip Kelly can pursue if/when he gets really, really desperate:

Vernon Adams Jr.: Montreal Alouettes third-stringer said only Carson Wentz was better than him in the last NFL draft.

Kellen Clemens: San Diego Chargers back-up boasts an 8-13 career record in 10 seasons.

Dennis Dixon: Spent senior year with Kelly, who later cut him from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Joey Harrington: Failed top-three draft pick who hasn’t played in nine years but may be a late bloomer.

Darron Thomas: Former Ducks star is a franchise player in the Major League Football League, whatever the heck that is.

YOUR TURN: “The Santa Clara pro football team doesn’t deserve to be called the 49ers. They should be called the Santa Clara (Valley?) Silicons. They gave up (and gave up on) San Francisco and San Francisco should disown them, but the 49ers name really should belong to San Francisco.” — Geno Connor, North Beach

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

Andrew McCutchenBilly BeaneBruce BochyBuster PoseyChip KellyCoco CrispJavier LopezMadison BumgarnerMatt Cainmatt joyceOakland A'sOakland AthleticsPaul LadewskiPittsburgh PiratesSan Francisco 49ersSan Francisco Giants

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