Cain didn't sparkle like teammate Tim Lincecum the day before in his playoff start, nor, thanks to an eighth-inning bullpen blowup, did he earn a win. But the 26-year-old right-hander definitely had a postseason debut to remember.
Cain allowed one unearned run on seven hits and struck out six, exiting after 6 2/3 innings to a standing ovation from the largest crowed in AT&T Park history.
"Matty threw the ball well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He did a nice job. He left the game with the lead, gave us everything he's got, and I thought he did a real nice job out there. We just couldn't hold it."
Like Lincecum, Cain gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, but managed to settle down. The leadoff hit, followed by a two-out walk, was the only true threat the Braves mounted against Cain until the middle innings.
In the fifth, Cain allowed a one-out single and then a walk, but induced an inning-ending double play from Jason Heyward. The Braves scored their lone run in the sixth, when Derrek Lee led off with a single, advanced to second when left fielder Pat Burrell bobbled the ball and then scored on an RBI single by Brian McCann. Cain was able to buckle down, however, retiring the next three batters.
"Brilliant," closer Brian Wilson said of Cain's performance. "The guy went out there and did exactly what he wanted to do. He's a workhorse and that's what he's done for us the entire season."
The biggest moment for Cain came in the bottom of the first. Throughout his career, the Giants have struggled to score runs for Cain. On Friday, one Burrell swing gave Cain all the runs he needed, as the outfielder launched the first pitch he saw into the left-field stands for a three-run homer.
Although the Giants bullpen wasn't able to hold the lead, Cain said Burrell's blast gave him the confidence he needed for the rest of the evening.
"Burrell being able to get a three-run lead early, I was able to settle down a little after the first inning and kind of calmed the nerves a little bit," Cain said. "That was a big key to be able to go out there and relax."