DENVER -- Matt Cain ended his slump. The same could not be said for the Giants.
Cain left Saturday's game against the Rockies after five innings, due to the Giants' need for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. Following Cain's departure, the disparity widened until Colorado completed its 5-1 victory before 48,035 at Coors Field.
The Rockies lengthened their winning streak against the Giants to eight, including six games at home. The Giants have dropped five consecutive games and 14 of their past 18.
With the possible exception of second baseman Joe Panik, who's batting .520 (13-for-25) during a six-game binge that includes five multiple-hit efforts, the Giants' most redeeming performance belonged to Cain (3-6), who yielded two runs (one earned) and nine hits while stranding five runners in scoring position.
Cain's recent skid included extreme struggles in road games. He entered Saturday 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA in six starts away from home. He also was 0-4 with a 7.09 ERA in his previous five outings overall.
Cain's effectiveness prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to call the right-hander's stint against the National League West leaders "encouraging."
Cain ceaselessly delivers honest opinions of himself, befitting his status as the longest-tenured Giant with more than 11 years of Major League service time.
This season, Cain said, has "had its ups and downs. ... You just have to stay in the middle, not get too worried when days are bad and not get caught up with it when they're good."
Defining the Giants' woes proved more challenging for Cain, who repeated that "it's hard to say" exactly what has soured the season.
"We have days where we hit the ball [well] at guys; we have days where we don't hit the ball [well] and they're hits," Cain said. "It kind of works the same [with] pitching. We can give up some lasers to guys that are outs. Other days, they're not. It feels like we've been on the bad side of it more than not. ...
"It's not really one thing you can put your finger on. Once we get back to the hotel, we have to flush this one and start back over tomorrow. It's easy to say that, but it's something we have to find a way to keep grinding through. It's definitely been hard for all the guys and all the staff and everybody who's been watching it."
Though more than half the season remains, the changing of the guard in the NL West is obvious. The Giants, who trail Colorado by 18 1/2 games, have all but officially fallen from contender status. Bochy readily acknowledged the Rockies' strength.
"You have to play at the top of your game if you want to beat this club. Especially here," Bochy said.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.