SAN FRANCISCO -- Games are never played on paper, but a good team is expected to beat up on a bad team, and that's exactly what the San Francisco Giants did to the Houston Astros.
After a disappointing 1-5 road trip, the Giants got back on track by sweeping the lowly Astros to start the second half of the season.
Buster Posey was 3-for-4 with two RBI as the Giants edged the Astros, 3-2 on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series.
"They're all going to be important and we struggled on the last road trip so it was big to come here and get back home and win these games and it's a big road trip coming up," Posey said.
Matt Cain (10-3) was far from perfect, but he did manage to pitch 6 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run, while walking one and striking out five. Cain won his first game since June 18 at Anaheim. That was his first start after pitching his perfect game against Houston on June 13.
"I felt pretty good," Cain said. "I might not have been ahead of them or the best location today but that's how it goes, you're going to have to battle through some of those days."
Coupled with the Dodgers' loss, the Giants lead the National League West by 1.5 games.
Bud Norris (5-7) worked six innings, allowed five hits and three runs, walked six and had six strikeouts. Marwin Gonzalez had two hits and a run. The Astros have dropped 13 of 14 games and maintain the worst record in the Majors with a mark of 33-56. Houston is the only team that has not won 10 road games.
"When a guy gives up six walks in those six innings, you're glad to get out of there like you did," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He gave us a quality start and gave us an opportunity to win a ballgame. That's huge and it was nice to see a couple of extra-base hits today. That's been kind of elusive for us."
"I wasn't very sharp," Norris said. "I really struggled to find my consistency and that's going to happen some days. You want to go out there and throw a lot more strikes than that but unfortunately I didn't. It was frustrating but I tried to keep us right there and battled through it."
Javier Lopez started the ninth inning for the Giants and struck out Brian Bogusevic. Manager Bruce Bochy then made a pitching change for Santiago Casilla, who had blown four of his last six save opportunities. Fans voiced their displeasure twice by booing the manager when he made the move and booed again when Casilla was announced to the fans. To his credit, Casilla had an uneventful outing. He struck out Chris Johnson and Gonzalez grounded to second to end the game.
"Casilla's been so good for us all year," Posey said. "We got the utmost confidence in him and he's got as good of stuff as anybody on the team."
The Giants wasted no time against Norris. Gregor Blanco and Emmanuel Burriss opened with singles to left. With runners on first and second, Norris uncorked a wild pitch, advancing runners to second and third base. Pablo Sandoval fouled out to third. Posey singled to right, scoring Blanco. Angel Pagan walked. With the bases loaded, Brandon Belt drew a walk to score Burriss, but the Giants failed to have a big inning and took a 2-0 lead.
After Cain retired the first six batters, Gonzalez doubled to right, assuring the Astros would not get no-hit for a second time by Cain. Norris sacrificed to move Gonzalez to third. Jordan Schafter bunted up the first-base line, and although Cain got to the ball in time, his throw was low and he was charged with a throwing error as Gonzalez scored.
The Astros tied the game in the fourth inning. Bogusevic singled to center and Johnson followed with a booming double to left-center to bring in Bogusevic. After that, Cain retired seven in a row and struck out the side in the sixth inning.
Norris had control issues again in the bottom of the fouth. He issued consecutive walks to Nate Schierholtz and Belt. He retired the next two batters but walked Blanco to load the bases. Burriss impatiently grounded out on the second pitch of the at-bat to end the inning, and the Giants had left six runners on base through four innings.
The Giants would retake the lead in the fifth. Sandoval doubled to left and scored on a single to center by Posey, his second RBI hit of the game.
NOTES: OF Melky Cabrera was a late scratch and is on paternity leave for the birth of his third child. Schierholtz, who has become primarily a pinch hitter and late-inning defensive replacement, got the start in right field. ... Burriss started at second base. ... Astros SS Jed Lowrie who was injured in Saturday night's game, was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle and has some nerve damage. He has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. ... The Giants head to Atlanta and Philadelphia for a six game road trip. The Astros continue their 10-game west coast trip at San Diego and Arizona.