The last time Matt Cain(notes) took the mound, he admittedly gained inspiration from an impressive milestone that may not be repeated for awhile. Now, he’ll attempt to set a personal record by winning a sixth consecutive decision.
The right-hander looks to keep pace for the NL lead in victories Tuesday night when the Giants open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Cain (7-1, 2.27 ERA) pitched the second game of a doubleheader on Thursday after Randy Johnson(notes) became the 24th pitcher to win 300 games in a 5-1 win at Washington. The next closest active pitcher to the milestone is Philadelphia’s 46-year-old Jamie Moyer(notes), who has 250 victories.
Cain followed up Johnson’s achievement by yielding one run and five hits with seven strikeouts in five innings before rain halted a 4-1 win over the Nationals in the top of the sixth.
“It motivated me,” Cain told the Giants’ official Web site. “To get the 300th win for R.J. was huge, so I was thinking, ‘OK, we’ve got a lot of momentum. R.J. got that done for him. Let’s keep it going on our side.’”
Cain, though, has put together his own outstanding run recently, going 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in his last six starts to match his career high for consecutive winning decisions. He’s also in position to tie Colorado’s Jason Marquis(notes) for the league lead in wins.
If Cain is going to keep pace with Marquis, he’ll need to help the Giants (29-27) rebound from Monday’s 4-0 loss at Florida as they settled for a split of the four-game set with Johnson taking the defeat. San Francisco also was no-hit for six innings before Edgar Renteria(notes) opened the seventh with a single off Sean West(notes).
Cain is 0-1 despite a 2.49 ERA in his last four starts at Arizona (25-33). He pitched well there on April 26, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of a 5-4, 12-inning loss in the finale of a three-game set after the Giants took the first two matchups.
Despite winning that series, San Francisco has won only seven of the last 23 games at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks are last in the NL West and own the second-worst record in the league.
They continue a stretch of 10 consecutive games against division rivals after dropping four of the first seven, including Monday’s 6-3 defeat at San Diego.
Arizona will now return to Chase, where its won just four of the last 13.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Reno on May 22. He was solid again on June 1, allowing four hits with five strikeouts in six scoreless innings of a 3-2 win at Los Angeles.
“I think with every start and every outing, you can gain a little more experience, get a little more confident and maybe settle in a little more,” said Buckner, who has pitched three scoreless innings in two relief appearances against San Francisco.