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One hit too much for unlucky Cain

One hit too much for unlucky Cain

SAN DIEGO -- Back where his lucklessness began, Matt Cain left PETCO Park with the empty results you might expect.

For the second time this season, Cain lost despite allowing only one hit as the San Diego Padres defeated the Giants, 6-0, on Saturday. The right-hander worked six innings, lapsing only in the second when Adrian Gonzalez tripled and Khalil Greene hit a sacrifice fly. Cain endured the same fate here on April 9, in his second start of 2007, when he no-hit San Diego for six innings before Greene doubled and scored the game's lone run in the seventh.

Cain received a no-decision in another six-inning one-hitter April 28 at Arizona in a 5-4 Giants loss. These outcomes, along with others, have built the season-long pattern of fruitless efforts for Cain, who entered the game with the third-lowest run support (3.78) among National League starters. San Francisco has scored two or fewer runs in 20 of Cain's 30 starts, explaining the contrast between his 3.71 ERA and his 7-15 record.

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Cain remained characteristically stoic.

"I try to go into every game with confidence and believe that my stuff should get guys out as long as I do my job," he said.

Cain might have pitched longer Saturday, but was lifted for a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. Naturally, Guillermo Rodriguez grounded into an inning-ending double play. Freed from the shackles of facing Cain, the Padres roared for five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to seal their seventh victory in a row over San Francisco.

Manager Bruce Bochy plainly felt dismayed over Cain's fate.

"It's a shame we couldn't get him a run or two," Bochy said.

Asked if Giants hitters felt any sort of guilt over their scant backing for Cain, shortstop Omar Vizquel said, "I think the guilt is on us, not only with Cain but with the other pitchers too."

In fact, Barry Zito ranks fourth in worst run support, one notch behind Cain.

"We've played some great defense, we can pitch, and the bullpen's been a little bit up and down. But the offense has been the major concern," Vizquel added. "We're not doing much in the 'little' game -- bunting, moving guys along. Of course, the most frustrated guy has to be Cain, who hasn't had any run support even though he's pitching his butt off. But again, it's not only him -- it's a collective struggle to score runs."

That has been particularly evident against the Padres, who recorded their Major League-high 19th shutout to tie a franchise record set in 1985. They've blanked the Giants four times while limiting them to a .214 average. No wonder San Diego is 11-3 this year against the Giants -- including 7-1 at PETCO Park, where San Francisco has homered twice in eight games.

Anticipating Sunday, when San Francisco's lineup probably will feature mostly younger players, Bochy started his veterans against ex-Giant Brett Tomko (3-11), who won his first game since defeating San Francisco on July 15 as a member of the Dodgers. Tomko, who signed with the Padres on Sept. 4 after Los Angeles designated him for assignment, allowed four hits in six innings in his first start with San Diego.

The oldest Giant, 43-year-old Barry Bonds, was removed from the game in the third inning after spraining his right big toe. Bochy said that Bonds likely will be sidelined two or three days, although X-rays taken of the all-time home run leader's toe were negative.

"He's pretty sore," Bochy said.

Trying to catch Gonzalez's triple, Bonds landed awkwardly after leaping and reaching above the top of the left-field wall, where a fan with a fielder's glove also tried to snare the ball. Television replays indicated that the spectator might have reached over the wall to deflect the ball away from Bonds.

A fan-interference call might have prevented the Padres from scoring. But Cain didn't dwell on what-ifs.

"I asked Barry, 'Hey, did you catch that ball? What happened with that?'" Cain related. "He said it was in his glove. He felt like somebody knocked it out of there -- hit his arm or something. I'll take his word for it. I wouldn't think he'd make something up."

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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