"It feels like it's a little more relaxed once this thing's gotten out of the way," Cain said, "and I think actually Barry's relaxed a little bit more, too."
The Giants were so loose that laughter rang across their dugout, which is noteworthy when it happens to any team. With two outs in the fifth inning, Cain yanked Tim Redding's 1-2 pitch into the left-field seats for his first Major League home run. As Cain approached first base, he stutter-stepped across the bag, nearly failing to touch it. Television cameras caught the Giants' amusement, but they composed themselves in time to give Cain the mock silent treatment as he returned to the dugout.
"It caught me off-guard for a second," Cain said.
The Giants also extended their streak of postgame champagne toasts to two games, as the coaching staff honored Bruce Bochy for his 1,000th managerial victory. The 55th manager in Major League history to reach that level, Bochy owns a lifetime record of 1,000-1,038.
"That just means I've had the great fortune to be around to get that opportunity," said Bochy, who's in his 13th season as a big-league manager. "I wish we were talking about this a month ago; we'd be sitting a little bit better."
The Giants looked like winners immediately as Bonds connected off Redding (1-3) following Randy Winn's two-out walk. Bonds' 23rd homer of the season reached McCovey Cove, giving him his 35th career "Splash Hit" since the Giants' bayside ballpark opened in 2000. Redding also became the 447th different pitcher to allow a homer to Bonds.
"I'm pretty locked in right now," Bonds said.
How Bonds avoided hooking Redding's 1-1 pitch foul is known only to him. Then again, that's what makes him Barry Bonds. "That was the swing we all know," Bochy said.
San Francisco added a pair of runs in the fifth, the first coming on Cain's homer and his subsequent adventure rounding first base.
"Well, if you hadn't noticed, I've only been near it once this year," said Cain, who entered the game 1-for-38. "It's kind of different when you're actually running."
Cain (4-12) executed his primary responsibility with considerably more grace while recording his first victory since July 4 and ending a personal three-decision losing streak. The Nationals didn't move a runner into scoring position against him after Felipe Lopez singled to open the game and stole second base.
Having received more than two runs of support in only nine of his 23 starts, Cain regarded the Giants' output as a bonanza, which eased his task.
"It helps when you get those two runs in the first," he said.
Mindful of preserving his pitching staff through the Giants' stretch of 31 games in 30 days, which is only eight games old, Bochy removed Cain after the right-hander's pitch count reached 109. Cain has recorded a 2.21 ERA in his last three starts, a span of consistency certainly worth preserving.
"I think he's a more complete pitcher now than he was earlier in the season," Bochy said.
Jack Taschner worked two innings and Vinnie Chulk pitched a perfect ninth to finish the Giants' eighth shutout of the season.