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04/29/08 3:15 AM ET
Giants give solid Cain first victory
Righty's only blemish in 5 1/3 shutout innings is five walks
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain, who frequently loses games like the one that unfolded Monday night, refused to dwell on his first victory of the season. "That's the least of my worries," Cain said. But his teammates, who all too often have seen Cain bequeath a late lead that dissolves in the bullpen's hands or receive no decision after pitching a seven- or eight-inning gem, delighted in the talented but luckless 23-year-old right-hander who earned the decision in the Giants' 4-0 triumph over the Colorado Rockies. "I'm glad we got Cain's first win out of the way," closer Brian Wilson said. "Now we can roll." Tyler Walker, who pitched the eighth inning, recalled working the same inning behind Cain on April 12, when St. Louis scored three runs to erase a 5-2 Giants advantage. "That was definitely something I've thought about for a couple of weeks now," Walker said. "So it's kind of a good feeling to pitch a scoreless inning to help him get the win. He's pitched well enough to win several times, so that has to be frustrating for him. But now he has something to build off of." So do the Giants. After yielding 10 runs in each of their previous two games against Cincinnati, the Giants rebounded to notch their fourth shutout, most in the Major Leagues. "That's pretty solid," said Wilson, who pitched the ninth. Speaking for the bullpen, he added, "Each guy goes in with the intention of putting up a zero and we feed off each person who goes in in each inning and try to maintain that." Cain (1-2) established the pattern with his 5 1/3 innings. He ended a streak of 10 consecutive winless starts with his first victory since last Aug. 28, also against Colorado and left-hander Franklin Morales. Cain allowed only four hits but walked five, which prompted his relatively early exit with a pitch count of 108. "I was just a little erratic," Cain said. "I couldn't keep it honed in." He was effective enough to improve to 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA lifetime against Colorado, the reigning National League champions who have lost four in a row. Explaining his success against the Rockies, Cain said, "They're always swinging the bats well, it seems. I try to take some of their aggressiveness and turn it around. It seems to be working so far."
"He was throwing his fastball down in the zone, away, working his offspeed pitches in there," Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins said.
Cain, who had received no more than one run in 17 of his previous 37 starts since the start of the last season, left the game with a 4-0 lead as Morales (1-2) yielded two runs in the first and fifth innings.
Emmanuel Burriss opened the first-inning uprising with a bunt single. He advanced to second base on a balk -- which prompted Colorado manager Clint Hurdle to be ejected for arguing -- and scored on Ray Durham's bloop single. Durham stole second and scored on Aaron Rowand's two-out single.
The Giants collected five walks to fuel their other rally. Morales walked the bases loaded and was pulled for Kip Wells, who issued free passes to Rowand and Rich Aurilia to force in runs.
Cain disappeared after Atkins doubled and Brad Hawpe walked with one out in the sixth. Vinnie Chulk relieved Cain and ended the threat by retiring Troy Tulowitzki on a fly ball and striking out Jeff Baker. Chulk's escape improved the Giants' percentage of stranding inherited runners to 90.6 (48 of 53), second to Tampa Bay.
"It's nice to see guys in the bullpen come in and stay locked in just as well," Cain said.
The game was delayed for two minutes in the bottom of the seventh inning, at 9:53 p.m. PT, due to a power outage that affected the area around AT&T Park. The Giants' running game wasn't short-circuited, however. They amassed four stolen bases to increase their total to 31, another Major League high and the most in the season's opening month by a Giants team since the franchise moved west in 1958.
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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.