SAN FRANCISCO – First impressions can be deceiving.
Matt Cain looked to be in a world of hurt early in the Giants 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday. He gave up two runs before many fans had found their seats and he walked five in the first two innings. But Cain hung in and gave the Giants a chance to battle their way back.
The result was San Francisco’s 15th come-from-behind win in 28 victories overall this season.
After dropping Friday’s opener to the Rockies, the Giants rebounded to take two of three from a division rival that has been an early surprise this season.
Unlike Saturday’s walk-off thriller, the Giants took control with a three-run fifth inning Sunday that gave them a 5-2 lead. All in all, it was an encouraging way for the Giants (28-22) to enter a four-game series with the cross-bay rival A’s beginning Monday.
Starting pitching report
Cain’s final line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts.
No use trying to make sense of it. Just realize he threw 38 pitches in a two-run first inning, and he was up to 65 pitches after the second.
Then, with the bullpen on early alert, the Giants ace steadied the ship and gutted his way through five innings without allowing any more damage. The five walks were a season high. But Cain (4-2) seemed rejuvenated after escaping a second-inning jam with runners on the corners and one out.
He retired 11 of his last 12 batters, and he stranded another runner at third with one out in the fifth, striking out Carlos Gonzalez and getting cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki on a soft comebacker.
Think Gonzalez was happy to see Cain leave the game? The Rockies outfielder came in 5 for 9 with two homers in this series, but he went down swinging in all three at-bats against Cain. For his career, Gonzalez is 4 for 38 with 14 strikeouts against the right-hander.
George Kontos worked his way out of trouble in the sixth.
Chad Gaudin also flirted with damage when he put two runners on to start the seventh. But he recorded two outs and then handed the ball to Javier Lopez, who struck out Charlie Blackmon looking to end the threat.
Sandy Rosario gave up a run in the eighth.
With the announcement that Santiago Casilla will have surgery on his right leg, it appears Gaudin takes on a more significant relief role in the late innings. Machi also is being used in key situations.
At the plate
A couple of innocent looking pop-ups off the bat of Hunter Pence wound up doing big damage. His fifth-inning pop got lost in the sun by Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu and fell in with two outs to extend the inning (it was ruled an error).
The Giants capitalized by scoring three runs. Brandon Belt drove a two-run double deep to center to give the Giants a 4-2 lead, and Andres Torres followed with a run-scoring double of his own.
Pence did it again in the sixth, when his bloop fell just in front of a sliding Charlie Blackmon in right field and went for a two-run double and a 7-2 Giants lead.
Buster Posey is clicking right now. He homered to left off Jon Garland (3-6) in the second to get the Giants on the board. He lined a single up the middle in the sixth and hit the ball on the screws on a third-inning lineout.
Marco Scutaro had two hits and is batting .324.
In the field
Manager Bruce Bochy talked before the game of the need for the Giants to play tighter defense. They turned in an errorless game Sunday, highlighted by first baseman Brandon Belt’s diving stop of a Todd Helton grounder and flip to Cain to end the third.
A sellout crowd of 42,597 showed up on Barry Zito Bobblehead day. Zito also took part in a pregame Memorial weekend salute to troops.
The Giants engage in a revised version of the Bay Bridge Series – two games against the A’s in Oakland followed up by two games against them at AT&T Park.
Monday’s 1:05 p.m. opener pits lefty Madison Bumgarner against Dan Straily, the only game where the pitching matchup obviously tilts in the Giants’ favor.
San Francisco has yet to announce a Tuesday starter to oppose the A’s Jarrod Parker.
Tim Lincecum takes the ball Wednesday against Tommy Milone, and Barry Zito opposes A.J. Griffin on Thursday.