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Second half no kinder to Cain in loss

Second half no kinder to Cain in loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' second half began with a performance that characterized their first half. They struggled to score, and Matt Cain lost.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won their ninth consecutive game at AT&T Park, prevailing, 9-1, Friday night. Los Angeles' road winning streak against the Giants, which extends to last season, includes only three one-run decisions, accentuating the lopsidedness of the matchup. The lopsidedness of this game was sealed in the ninth, when the Dodgers scored six runs on seven consecutive hits, mostly softly hit balls that dropped in front of Giants outfielders.

"We've got some ground to make up," said manager Bruce Bochy, whose last-place Giants trail National League West-leading San Diego by 10 1/2 games, "and it's obvious this isn't the way to do it."

The Giants have scored more than two runs in only six of 18 games started by Cain (3-10), who won his last start on July 4 in Cincinnati but was 0-6 in an eight-start stretch before that. Cain worked five innings against Los Angeles, yielding seven hits and three runs (two earned), which might seem like an unimpressive effort. But he kept the score close, which not all of his successors managed to do.

As usual, Cain deflected blame from the hitters and absorbed it himself.

"If we don't score runs, we're not going to win, obviously, but I got into situations where I might have gotten ahead of guys and didn't put guys away," he said.

Not even Barry Bonds could generate a redeeming moment for the Giants. He twice grounded into double plays with runners in scoring position and walked twice, remaining four home runs behind all-time leader Hank Aaron's 755. Bonds' teammates were just as ineffectual, as Los Angeles outhit them 17-7. The Giants mustered four singles in six innings off Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (6-0), who exceeded five innings in only one of his previous four starts.

Bochy did what he could to render the Giants' effort meaningful while the Giants trailed only 3-0. He managed as if San Francisco were in the thick of the division race, pinch-hitting for Cain with one on and one out in the fifth and removing leadoff batter Dave Roberts, who had gone 2-for-3, against left-hander Joe Beimel for pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen in the seventh with one on and two outs. Roberts, a left-handed batter, is hitting .159 off lefties.

Told that such moves smacked of a sense of urgency, Bochy said, "Well, it is. We need to win ballgames."

This was the sort of defeat that will deepen the contemplation of Giants general manager Brian Sabean, who received a two-year contract extension earlier Friday. With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, and urged by owner Peter Magowan to make the team younger and more energetic, Sabean must question the merits of keeping together an aging, offensively challenged lineup.

But it's anybody's guess whether Sabean can find takers for veterans who have contributed to the futility of the Giants, who ranked 13th in batting average and next-to-last in runs and slugging percentage among National League clubs entering Friday.

Cain threw only 19 pitches in his first two innings, but that efficiency unraveled in the third as the Dodgers opened the scoring with a pair of runs.

Andre Ethier singled leading off and Rafael Furcal singled one out later. Juan Pierre singled home Ethier, although Roberts threw out Furcal trying to advance to third. Pierre scored on the next pitch, as he stole third base and sped home on catcher Bengie Molina's accompanying throwing error.

The Dodgers added a run in the fifth as Furcal singled, advanced on Pierre's sacrifice and scored on Russell Martin's single.

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

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