Giants can't preserve Cain's victory

Giants can't preserve Cain's victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain didn't know it, but he was a marked man Friday night.

Multiple forces conspired against his efforts to defeat the Colorado Rockies: a limp Giants offense, a familiar bullpen collapse and some leaky defense. As well as Cain pitched -- again -- he was no match for the negative circumstances as the Rockies outlasted the Giants, 5-3.

Colorado, winner of three in a row, scored all its runs in the final three innings on two-out hits while the Giants' hitters shut down after a three-run first. The Rockies scored once in the eighth to erase San Francisco's 3-2 lead and deny Cain a chance for the victory, then victimized Armando Benitez (0-2) in the ninth to end the Giants' four-game winning streak.

The bullpen has squandered three leads it inherited from Cain. The Giants have won just twice in his 10 starts -- a shocking statistic, given his respectable 3.23 ERA and dominant .203 opponents' batting average entering Friday. True to form, Cain remained stoic regarding his fate.

"It's not always going to happen," said Cain, who left the mound with a 3-1 lead and was ultimately charged with two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. "They're going to pick me up like they've done before. It goes both ways."

Asked if he worried that Cain might take his bad luck personally, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "I hope not. The only thing he can do is go out there and do what he's doing -- that's pitch. The way he's throwing, it'll turn around."

Cain indicated that he wasn't showered with apologies or condolences from teammates. Not that he needed them.

"We're a family here," he said. "A lot of it's unspoken."

But Benitez, who surrendered Colorado's two ninth-inning runs that broke a 3-3 tie, added little to the family atmosphere as he cited the offense's shortcomings.

"I did my job; I got three ground balls," Benitez said, referring to the first three Rockies batters he faced in the ninth. "It happens. We had opportunities to win the game; how many times we got somebody on base and nobody moved [up] a base? Somebody has to pay. Today, it's me."

With one out in the ninth, pinch-hitter Steve Finley hit a chopper that second baseman Kevin Frandsen dove to backhand. His rushed throw skipped past first baseman Ryan Klesko into the Rockies' dugout, giving Finley an extra base. Willy Taveras' groundout moved Finley to third, from where he scored on Kazuo Matsui's single. Matsui stole second and scored on Matt Holliday's single.

Unlike Benitez, Frandsen, who entered the game as part of a double-switch in the seventh inning, was rough on himself.

"I made an absolutely terrible throw," Frandsen said. Asked if he thought a clean throw might have retired Finley, who's still fleet at 42, Frandsen replied, "If I gave him a good hop, it would have been a bang-bang play. Who knows what would happen?"

Other what-ifs nagged the Giants one inning earlier. After Holliday singled to christen the eighth, left-hander Jack Taschner relieved Brad Hennessey and approached an escape by striking out Todd Helton and coaxing Garrett Atkins' flyout. Brad Hawpe lifted a foul beyond third base that Pedro Feliz reached for but missed by a few feet.

"It was a tough night on popups," Bochy said, referring to Bengie Molina's first-inning RBI single that fell to earth behind the pitcher's mound. Taschner got ahead on the count, 0-2, before Hawpe lined a fastball into the left-field corner for an RBI double.

"I was trying to elevate it, kind of like what I did with Helton," Taschner said. "But I didn't get it high enough."

Barry Bonds, whose homerless streak grew to 13 games, couldn't rush on his reputedly sore left leg to pursue Hawpe's hit, which didn't bother Taschner.

"I honestly didn't think [Holliday] would score on that," Taschner said, "but the ball kind of sat in the corner."

Though the bullpen's woes doomed San Francisco to its fourth loss of the season when leading after seven innings, Bochy pointed out that the offense wasn't able to "add on" after its first-inning outburst. Colorado starter Jason Hirsh and three relievers held the Giants to five hits after the first inning and 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

"That came back to haunt us," Bochy said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.