Cain's woes against Dodgers continue

Cain's woes against Dodgers continue

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few things were eerily familiar Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

The Giants ended potential rallies by grounding into two double plays.

Pablo Sandoval made yet another baserunning gaffe.

Starter Matt Cain once again struggled against the Dodgers and, as a result, the Giants continued their losing ways in a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles, their fourth consecutive defeat.

"We've got to tighten things up," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're making some mistakes that we weren't making earlier and it compounds the little streak we're in. ... It's the little things that we have to get better at and do a better job. It's catching up with us."

Before Tuesday's game, a day after his team grounded into five double plays, Bochy seemed to have reached the tipping point, officially declaring the then-Giants' National League-leading 81 double plays an "epidemic."

Like most illnesses, the double plays stuck around another night.

With the game tied at 1 in the bottom of the third, Freddy Sanchez hit a one-out single, setting the table for the middle of the order against Dodgers rookie John Ely (4-5, 3.62 ERA). Instead of taking advantage, Sandoval grounded into his 18th double play of the season to end the inning.

Trailing, 4-1, in the seventh, the Giants still were within striking distance. Bengie Molina drew a leadoff walk, but Edgar Renteria followed with another double play.

In between the two double plays, the Giants lost another scoring opportunity in the sixth, when Sandoval committed his second major baserunning mistake in the past two games. After reaching on what was ruled a throwing error by Dodgers first baseman James Loney, Pat Burrell singled through the hole at second base. Sandoval rounded second hard before turning back, but Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp fired to second, and shortstop Rafael Furcal applied the tag to easily beat Sandoval.

On Monday night, with runners on the corners and no outs, Sandoval tried to take second base on a fly ball to right field, thinking Aaron Rowand -- on third -- was breaking for home, but instead was thrown out.

Bochy chalked up both mistakes to Sandoval trying to do too much.

"It shouldn't happen ... he knows that," Bochy said. "He's playing as hard as he can, he was just too aggressive."

Although the two double plays and Sandoval's baserunning error were key miscues offensively, the Giants were already behind thanks to Cain's mistake in the fifth.

The Dodgers scored one run off Cain (6-7, 2.93) in the first inning, before the right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam. Cain was laboring once again in the fifth, allowing the first two batters to reach. He got Andre Ethier to line out to second and struck out Kemp, but he couldn't put away Loney despite going up 0-2, giving up a two-run single to right.

"It was a long at-bat and he was pitching me pretty tough," Loney said. "He was hitting the corners pretty good. I got out in front and hooked it."

Casey Blake followed with an RBI single to put the Dodgers up, 4-1.

"I was just trying to still make my pitch, I just didn't get it done," Cain said of the Loney at-bat. "I've been in that situation before in that spot. ... I just didn't make my pitch down and away that I needed."

For Cain, it was yet another outing to forget against the Dodgers as he remained winless in his career against Los Angeles -- the only NL West team he has yet to beat in his career. In 14 starts against the Dodgers, Cain is 0-8 with a 4.33 ERA.

After stringing together four straight wins, Cain has lost his past three starts, giving up 14 runs in 15 1/3 innings.

"He really was a pitch away from having a pretty good outing," Bochy said. "It looked like he was getting out of that jam and he made a mistake, but I thought he had good stuff."

The Giants have lost their past four series, posting a 3-8 record and averaging 2.5 runs per game in that span.

With the losses piling up, Bochy said some members of his team could be trying to do too much. And despite the small, nagging mistakes, Cain agreed that was the issue -- not anything else.

"It's definitely not a lack of focus. We're trying to get things done and sometimes that gets the best of you," Cain said. "It happens with us on the mound -- you get excited in certain situations and you leave a pitch up or you don't get things done -- and that's usually how ballgames are won."

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.