Cain homers, handles Cubs in win
Righty wins back-to-back starts for first time this season
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ballplayers typically avoid dwelling on statistics for fear of losing their focus, but Matt Cain can be excused for noticing one particular fact about his performance.With the Giants' 4-1 victory Thursday over the Chicago Cubs, Cain kept rising from his seemingly bottomless pit of bad luck by winning his second consecutive start, marking the first time this season that he has achieved this modest feat. Having experienced a steady procession of one-run defeats, poor run support and bullpen meltdowns, Cain didn't need reporters to inform him of his good fortune. "You don't want to think about it, but it's been a little bit of a goofy season," said Cain (6-13). Indeed, Cain needed to furnish his own offense to ensure his triumph. Besides allowing only one run in seven innings, he lofted a two-run, sixth-inning homer off Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano (14-10), who happens to rank among the National League's top hitting pitchers. "If you thought a pitcher was going to hit a home run today, I don't think Cain would have been your pick," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. But when maintaining poise is the issue, Cain's always a top choice. The next foul word Cain utters about his harrowing season will be his first, which center fielder Dave Roberts referred to in praising his teammate. "I told him this: He's going to look back on this year, and he's going to be better because of it, depending on how he handles this adversity. And I think he's handled it like a pro," said Roberts, whose two-run single off Zambrano broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. "So when he does reap some of the fruits of throwing well with a win, it makes you feel good." Cain also remained calm despite throwing like Nuke LaLoosh in the bullpen. "When he was warming up, he wasn't throwing any strikes," catcher Guillermo Rodriguez said. "I was worried about it when I walked back to the dugout. But as soon as the game started, he started pounding the corners." Said Cain, "You try not to take too much of what goes on in the bullpen into the game. Something always changes when a hitter gets in there. It's competition."
|"He's going to look back on this year, and he's going to be better because of it, depending on how he handles this adversity. And I think he's handled it like a pro."|
|-- Dave Roberts, on Matt Cain|
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.