It took Matt Cain 14 starts last season to win his third game. The way the San Francisco right-hander has pitched lately, he could reach that total in his fourth start of 2009.
Cain looks to improve to 3-0 for the first time on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field as the surging Giants try to complete a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Cain (2.37 ERA) gave up two runs in six innings in his last start - an 8-3 win over San Diego on Tuesday. He struck out five and did not issue a walk.
“You just worry about throwing strikes early (in the count), try to put pressure on them and get them in that swing mode,” Cain told the Giants’ official Web site.
Through three starts, Cain is surrendering just .32 walks per inning (six in 19 innings). He allowed .42 walks per inning during his first four seasons.
“They did get some hits but he didn’t put guys on base to add on to any rallies and limited the damage,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said after Tuesday’s victory. “Matt really kept his poise out there and threw strikes.”
Cain, who is 3-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 10 career starts against Arizona, went 8-14 with a 3.76 ERA in 2008 and did not win his third game until June 9.
He’ll look to give the Giants (8-8) their sixth straight victory as he faces the Diamondbacks for the first time since Sept. 16 when he struck out seven and walked none in a 2-0 loss at Chase Field.
Jon Garland (2-1, 5.71), meanwhile, looks for a second consecutive quality start. After walking five and giving up seven runs in a 12-7 loss to St. Louis on April 15, the veteran righty allowed one earned run in 6 2-3 innings in Monday’s 6-3 victory over Colorado.
“He kept the ball down,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin told the team’s official Web site. “When he keeps the ball down, he gets some awkward swings.”
Garland makes his second career start against San Francisco, and first since June 10, 2003, when he went seven innings for the Chicago White Sox in a 5-3 win.
With Saturday’s 5-3 loss, the Diamondbacks (6-11) fell to 5-9 at Chase Field and dropped their fifth series this season. Arizona won two of three from Colorado earlier this week for its only series win.
“We did hit a couple balls hard on the nose, but we mixed in some not-so-good at-bats too,” Melvin said.
The Diamondbacks are batting a National League-worst .223.
Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew is expected to be placed on the disabled list Sunday with a left hamstring injury. He’s batting .205 with one homer and five RBIs this season.
Randy Winn went 2-for-5, including a two-run shot in the fifth that gave the Giants a 4-2 lead.
“When the starting pitcher struggles, you’ve got to pick him up,” Winn said of Johnson’s seven-walk outing. “The starting pitching’s been picking up the offense for quite a while, so it’s nice to return the favor.”
San Francisco has an NL-low 10 homers.