SAN DIEGO – When Matt Cain lost 1-0 to the Colorado Rockies last week, there was a silver lode in that cloud. The Giants had the comfort of knowing the Cain of old was still capable of doing some heavy lifting in their rotation.
But two Cainings in five days? That’s as fun as wearing a denim jacket in a downpour.
Cain was brilliant again Friday night, limiting the San Diego Padres to an unearned run in seven innings. But the Giants offense couldn’t compete against Tyson Ross in a 2-1 loss at Petco Park.
Ross limited the Giants to four hits while striking out nine in eight shutout innings to outduel Cain, whose only run scored on a passed ball in the first inning. Chris Denorfia tripled and came home when Cain yanked a pitch well outside that brushed off Hector Sanchez’s glove and bounded to the backstop.
Brandon Belt homered in the ninth off closer Huston Street, his sixth of the year, but the Padres already had received a solo shot from Yasmani Grandal in the eighth. And Hector Sanchez, who was Wednesday’s walk-off hero, couldn’t come through. He struck out after Hunter Pence drew a two-out walk and dared to steal second base.
Belt’s homer accomplished one thing, though: It meant the Giants played their eighth consecutive one-run game. It’s their longest streak since 1910. They’re 4-4 over the stretch.
Starting pitching report
Cain entered with a 3.15 ERA in 31 career starts against the Padres but was just 7-11 against them. No team, it seems, has Cained him more often. You can thank Greg Maddux and Jake Peavy for many of those hard-luck losses.
This time it was Ross’s turn to shade him.
Cain (0-3) didn’t allow a runner into scoring position after the first inning. He struck out two in the fourth and fanned the side in the fifth. When Will Venable singled in the seventh to end a stretch of 1 consecutive batters retired, Cain got a double-play grounder two pitches later.
He held the Padres to four hits and walked two while striking out eight. It was just the second time in his career he didn’t give up an earned run and still lost. The other time was May 22, 2010 at Oakland in a 1-0 loss to Gio Gonzalez.
Juan Gutierrez surrendered the homer to Grandal.
At the plate
The Giants gave Buster Posey and Michael Morse the night off, but they still sent up three lefty bats and four switch-hitters against Ross. Matchups didn’t matter, though. The pride of Bishop O’Dowd and that little university in Berkeley did a masterful job of pitching.
Ross (2-2) got ahead with a moving, running fastball and used late-breaking stuff that enticed the Giants to chase. It took 14 batters before anyone worked an at-bat of more than four pitches against Ross – and that’s when Pence finished a six-pitch strikeout by waving at something in the dirt of the opposite batter’s box.
The Giants wasted Angel Pagan’s double to start the game, then didn’t get another runner into scoring position until Belt hit an infield single and stole second base in the fourth. Pence and Sanchez struck out.
They didn’t threaten again until the seventh, when Pablo Sandoval led off with a single and Pence drew the Giants’ first walk of the game. It might have been a sacrifice situation, but the Giants didn’t have the right personnel; Sandoval was not the fleetest off second base, and Sanchez was too inviting a double-play target.
Perhaps if Bochy has a five-man bench instead of four, he sends up a pinch hitter or even a pitcher to bunt for Sanchez. Whatever his rationale, Bochy decided to take three shots at getting home the tying run. He ended up getting just two; Sanchez grounded into a double play and Brandon Crawford lined out to short.
Bochy deployed his bench in the eighth, sending up Morse and Posey to pinch-hit. It yielded a grounder to short and a strikeout.
Belt, after tagging and down-and-in pitch from Street, has homered in every ballpark he’s played in this season. But the Giants couldn’t complete the rally.
The Giants received no breaks from a Padres defense that sparkled. First baseman Yonder Alonso took a hit away from Ehire Adrianza in the third inning and shortstop Everth Cabrera completed a step-and-throw double play in the seventh.
The Padres announced 34,839 paid, with the usual splotches of orange in the stands.
The Giants and Padres continue their three-game series at Petco Park on Saturday. It’ll be Tim Hudson (2-0, 2.35) vs. left-hander Eric Stults (0-2, 5.52). First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PDT.