Matt Cain rebounded from the shortest start of his career as the Giants picked up their second straight win against the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
After lasting only 2/3 of an inning in his last outing, Cain mollified concerns that he's battling arm issues by throwing 102 pitches over five strong innings in a 4-3 Giants win at AT&T Park on Saturday.
“He looked great,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Thought he had good stuff tonight.”
With the win, the Giants (45-51) closed the gap with the Diamondbacks (50-47) in the National League West to 4½ games.
Cain (6-6) cruised through the first four innings, allowing only two base runners – a first-inning double and a second-inning walk – before retiring nine straight batters. With nine days of rest, his arm looked full of life as he fanned All-Star Paul Goldschmidt with a 93 mph fastball in the fourth inning.
The 28-year-old right-hander dismissed the idea that he was having issues prior to the All-Star break.
“Not a problem,” he said.
Cain ran into trouble in the fifth inning, though, walking three batters and giving up a single. Martin Prado scored the Diamondbacks' first run when Giants shortstop Tony Abreu threw a double play ball past first baseman Buster Posey.
Cain surrendered back-to-back singles to start the sixth and another run crossed the plate before George Kontos, Jeremy Affeldt and Jose Mijares finished the inning.
Mijares took the hill after Jeremy Affeldt exited with a left groin strain and struck out Adam Eaton with the bases loaded. Affeldt received an MRI after the game.
“That's never a good area,” Bochy said of the groin strain. “It's possible DL.”
Bochy used seven relievers to preserve the win for Cain with Santiago Casilla throwing the seventh, Sandy Rosario and Javier Lopez tossing the eighth and Sergio Romo picking up his 23rd save of the season, despite allowing a run.
“They've always been a key for us,” Cain said. “And for them to come in today and shut those guys down for four innings is not easy and they didn't a really good job to do that.”
The Giants opened the scoring with a first-inning run for the fourth consecutive game when Pablo Sandoval doubled down the left-field line to score Marco Scutaro. Sandoval was 2-for-4 and he appears to be out of his post-disabled list funk, batting .343 (12-for-35) over his last nine games.
Posey is also swinging good lumber. He accounted for the Giants' second run on a bases loaded walk in the fourth and put them ahead 4-1 by smacking a two-out home run to straight away center in the fifth.
“That's what wins ball games for you,” Bochy said. “Timely hitting, two-out hits.”
Posey, who's hitting .432 (19-for-44) over his last 11 games, finished the night 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“He's quite a talent and we're fortunate to have him,” Bochy said.