Giants 5, Rockies 0
The precocious right-hander is more interested in keeping his club in the playoff race until his 22nd birthday—which happens to be the last day of the regular season.
Cain allowed two hits in eight superb innings to win his fourth straight start, and the Giants gained ground in the NL West race with a 5-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.
Cain (13-9) made it easy with another standout performance. The baby-faced rookie retired 10 of Colorado’s first 11 hitters, then set down 13 straight after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
“Some kind of pitcher, huh?” Giants manager Felipe Alou said, later likening Cain to a young Tom Seaver. “That’s what you call controlling the game. That curveball, he’s throwing it where they have to swing at it. In my mind, he’s as good as anybody.”
Cain had seven strikeouts and never tired in a 118-pitch outing. Vinnie Chulk completed the two-hitter, pitching a perfect ninth.
“I’m just getting ahead of guys and trying to get to them early,” Cain said. “I feel a little calmer in the second half. … We had a good battle going on early, and we finally got to Aaron (Cook).”
Cain, whose 13 wins lead all NL rookies, has been nearly unhittable for a month now. He’s 5-0 in six starts since Aug. 12 with a 0.21 ERA, allowing just one earned run in 42 innings—and he hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 30 2-3 innings.
“We were completely shut down,” said Colorado manager Clint Hurdle, whose club has lost to Cain three times this season. “Cain took care of us. He was very good. … He has definitely made some strides forward. He’s a pretty solid candidate” for NL Rookie of the Year.
Barry Bonds went 1-for-3 with a walk for the Giants, who will begin a 10-game road trip Friday in St. Louis. Their playoff hopes likely hang on strong results from the road swing, which includes three games in Denver next week.
The three-team California playoff derby is still tight. Third-place San Francisco moved within three games of the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, who are just a half-game ahead of the wild card-leading San Diego Padres.
“Every game counts now,” Cain said. “Everybody is really watching the scoreboard.”
Kevin Frandsen and Shea Hillenbrand added run-scoring hits in the seventh against Cook (9-14), who matched Cain through five scoreless innings before faltering late. Alou had a two-run single after Cook left to complete San Francisco’s two-out rally.
Cook yielded eight hits and five runs in 6 2-3 innings for Colorado, which got only one runner to third base while losing for just the second time in seven games. The young right-hander still felt good about his performance and his season.
“That one inning got away from me,” said Cook, who has pitched exactly 200 innings this season. “I’m happy I haven’t missed a start. I still have two starts left, and I want to finish strong. I prepared myself for the long season. I want to always be a No. 1 or No. 2 guy who can chew up the innings. The wins will come.”
One day after hitting his 732nd career homer, Bonds contributed a long fly-ball single to the base of the right-field wall during the Giants’ sixth-inning rally. The Rockies curiously played Bonds straight-up, eschewing the infield shift and outfield shading that are common tactics against the left-handed pull hitter.
Bonds left the game for pinch-runner Todd Linden after drawing a walk to load the bases in the seventh. The slugger raised his batting helmet to cheering fans at the close of what might turn out to be his next-to-last homestand in San Francisco.
Cain had allowed just one baserunner until the fourth, when Garrett Atkins and Matt Holiday had consecutive one-out singles. Brad Hawpe drew a walk to load the bases, but Vinny Castilla grounded weakly to shortstop for an inning-ending double play.
Vizquel and Hillenbrand reached base to open the sixth before Bonds’ skyrocket of a fly ball eluded Hawpe at the right-field wall. Hawpe made a brilliant defensive play Wednesday night, grabbing Todd Greene’s drive at the wall with two runners on to end Colorado’s 9-8 victory.
Bonds is one homer shy of matching Hank Aaron’s NL record of 733. … 2B Kaz Matsui made an outstanding defensive play on San Francisco’s first batter, ranging deep into the hole to snag Frandsen’s grounder, then making a twisting, bouncing throw to beat him at first. … The Giants lead the season series 8-7.