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05/18/10 2:28 AM ET

Giants remain vexed by Padres

Cain takes loss despite quality start vs. San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants remained stuck on the treadmill that has become their season series against the San Diego Padres.

San Francisco fell to 0-7 against the Padres with Monday night's 3-1 decision, which resembled most of the previous six. Again the Giants pitched capably and hit insufficiently, mustering four hits -- all but one in the fourth inning, when they scored their lone run. The Giants have totaled nine runs this year against the Padres, scoring two runs or fewer in each game.

Giants pitchers have limited San Diego to a .214 batting average. But the Giants are hitting just .197 against the Padres, who own a Major League-best 2.60 ERA.

"It's pretty simple," Giants manager Bruce Bochy sad. "They're pitching great against us. That's all there is to it. We've been in every game and come up a little short. Sure, it's frustrating. Some things are hard to explain. They've got us right now. The only way it's going to turn around is if we start swinging these bats a little better."

Asked if the Giants might be trying too hard against San Diego, third baseman Pablo Sandoval replied, "Probably, yeah."

Though it's too early for San Francisco to concede anything to the Padres, their dominance already has influenced the National League West race. First-place San Diego, which owns a 16-15 record against teams other than the Giants, lengthened its division lead over San Francisco to 1 1/2 games. The second-place Giants, 21-9 against everybody other than the Padres, lead the third-place Dodgers by a mere half-game.

Asked to convey the level of frustration the Padres have inflicted upon the Giants, right-hander Matt Cain said, "Does that really need to be asked? It's obvious. We need to win. We've got to win."

Especially frustrating for the Giants was the fact that San Diego scored all of its runs with two outs:

• In the first inning, Adrian Gonzalez hammered Cain's 0-2 fastball over the center-field wall for his eighth home run of the season. It was only the third homer Cain (2-3) has allowed in 51 1/3 innings this year.

The struggling Gonzalez entered the game with a .250 average. But he looked like anything but a slumping hitter as he jumped on Cain's pitch, which the right-hander intended to steer outside but instead threw down the middle.

"You make mistakes against these guys, they're going to take advantage of them. That's what happened," said Cain, who remained luckless against San Diego despite allowing only two runs in six innings. The right-hander fell to 4-8 lifetime against the Padres, though his ERA in 21 appearances is 3.12.

• David Eckstein, who persists in tormenting the Giants, lined a single off Sandoval's glove to prolong the fifth inning. Cain walked Gonzalez before Chase Headley grounded a single on a 2-2 pitch.

Sandoval nearly caught Eckstein's hit with a backhanded try, but couldn't quite squeeze the ball.

"He hit like a cutter," Sandoval said, describing, from his vantage point, the ball's veering left-to-right path.

• The Giants trailed only 2-1 in the seventh inning when Sergio Romo's first pitch to Kyle Blanks grazed the San Diego left fielder, who was in an 0-for-26 skid and batting .157 at the time. That came with the bases loaded and forced in a run.

The inning began with Dan Runzler walking Eckstein, naturally enough.

"You're asking for trouble when you do that," Bochy said.

That expanded San Diego's cushion entering the late innings and made a difference, particularly when Aubrey Huff doubled to open the Giants' ninth against Padres closer Heath Bell. Instead of being able to prolong the game with just a run, the Giants needed a pair, which wasn't forthcoming as Bell fanned Juan Uribe and pinch-hitter Eugenio Velez and retired Nate Schierholtz on a fly to center.

Bochy was reduced to lamenting hard-hit outs, though in fairness, the Giants accumulated several of them. Aaron Rowand hit sharp grounders directly to infielders in his first two at-bats, Andres Torres hoisted flies in the third and fifth innings that died a foot or two in front of the outfield wall, and Schierholtz lined a scorcher directly at third base to end the seventh. That ended the evening for Padres left-hander Clayton Richard (3-2), who's 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts against the Giants this year.

Next up for San Francisco's is Padres right-hander Mat Latos, who was separated from a perfect game last Thursday at San Francisco by Eli Whiteside's sixth-inning infield single. The Giants realize the challenge they face.

"All you can do," Bochy said, "is try to hit the ball hard."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.