SAN FRANCISCO –- Your eyes did not deceive you.
That was indeed Matt Cain on the mound Friday night. It only seemed like an impostor snuck into the clubhouse, slipped on his orange jersey and found his way to the pitcher’s mound.
On a night the Giants badly needed their longtime ace to come through, Cain fell flat.
He was tagged for eight runs in a season-low 2 1/3 innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers clobbered the Giants 10-2 in the opener of a three-game series at AT&T Park.
It was supposed to be a night to turn the page. Instead, the Giants fell deeper into a hole they dug with their just-completed 1-8 road trip.
The Dodgers batted around in a six-run top of the third that broke the game open. Cain was on the mound for five of those runs, and he also got charged with the RBI single that George Kontos allowed to Los Angeles pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to cap the rally.
Former Giant Juan Uribe, still garnering boos at AT&T Park for signing with the Dodgers after the 2010 season, had a monster night with seven RBI.
The Giants sank to seven games under .500. They’ve dropped 10 of their last 11 and 15 of their last 19.
Searching for answers?
So is Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
Starting pitching report
No one could have seen this coming from Cain.
He entered the night with a 1.82 ERA since June 2, the third-lowest ERA in the majors among starting pitchers over that span. He also sported a 1.93 ERA in his previous 11 starts against the Dodgers, making it seem like the Giants were running the right man to the hill.
But Cain (5-5) simply lacked command. He walked four, which was bizarre considering he had issued just three walks over his previous four starts combined.
After an easy first inning, Cain walked two and allowed two runs in the second. Then the roof caved in the third.
Yasiel Puig, playing his first game at AT&T Park, led off with a double. He scored on Hanley Ramirez’s single. A.J. Ellis added another run-scoring single. Then with the bases loaded, Uribe hit a low liner to left that got past a diving Cole Gillespie, clearing the bases and ending Cain’s night.
Cain’s ERA jumped from 4.29 to 4.85, and most disturbing was how badly he missed with so many of his pitches. He used up 75 pitches in just 2 1/3 innings.
It was thankless work for the relief corps to bring this one to the finish line. Kontos, Mike Kickham and Jake Dunning went the final 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs. The Giants have nine games remaining without a day off leading into the All-Star break, and it’s not good that Bochy had to burn through his bullpen so early Friday night.
At the plate
The lack of hitting got overshadowed by Cain’s struggles, but this punchless offense remains a concern.
The Giants collected eight hits, giving them just 15 over the past four games.
There were some bad sequences Friday. Ryu (7-3) put the first two batters aboard in the bottom of the first and walked two in the inning, but the Giants scratched out just one run on Hunter Pence's RBI fielder’s choice.
In the third, they put runners on second and third with one out. Cleanup man Buster Posey popped up and Pence took a called third strike down the middle.
That’s disheartening, even when you already trail 8-1.
In the field
Gillespie, called up earlier in the day from Triple-A, said before the game he likes diving for balls in an all-out effort to help his pitchers. He hit the turf in the third on Uribe’s liner to left and came up empty on the bases-clearing triple.
The Giants epitomized their night with two errors on a single play in the seventh. First baseman Brandon Belt misplayed a grounder off the bat of Mark Ellis. The ball deflected to second baseman Tony Abreu, who threw wildly to first for the second error.
The adventures weren’t limited to the home team. Puig, playing AT&T Park’s tricky right field for the first time, showed his inexperience in the bottom of the third. Sandoval drove ball off the right field wall that bounded away from Puig, who wasn’t ready for the ricochet.
The Cuban sensation went 1-for-5 with a run, and he’ll find out Saturday whether Bochy picked him for the National League All-Star team.
[RELATED: Puig's All-Star status]
The crowd of 41,911 surely expected a more competitive game than they got. But those wearing Blue and White didn’t walk away disappointed.
Madison Bumgarner rode to the rescue in his last start, delivering the Giants to their only victory on their last road trip. He’s needed again to stop the bleeding Saturday. Bumgarner (8-5, 3.08) has allowed just eight earned runs over his last 33 innings (five starts). He’ll oppose Stephen Fife (3-2, 2.83) in a 4:15 p.m. matchup on FOX.