As encores go, a five-inning, three-run effort might not have been exactly what Cain had in mind following his perfect game at AT&T Park against the Astros five nights earlier. But a win is a win, and the Giants' sturdy right-hander -- given a long history of hard-luck endings -- savors each happy one that falls his way.
With help from a persistent offense, Cain and a dynamic bullpen subdued the Angels, 5-3, on Monday night in the opener of an Interleague series at Angel Stadium.
Facing two fewer batters than he had against Houston and throwing 25 fewer pitches, Cain made it through five innings with a one-run lead and watched the perfection this time come from four relievers -- Shane Loux, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla -- combining for 15 consecutive outs.
"In my eyes," said Loux, who set down the Angels, his former team, in order in the sixth, "he's the guy. He's the team."
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
He nodded in the direction of Cain, who was standing tall amid a media crowd, hurling praise the way of Loux and others responsible for pushing his record to 9-2.
"We're all doing a lot of things right," Cain said in the afterglow of his eighth consecutive win in as many starts. "We've been swinging the bats well, picking each other up. Now we're going to come back to doing things as a group."
Cain's run ended at 32 consecutive batters retired in his previous two starts with his third pitch. Mike Trout slammed it to left for a leadoff single and stole his first of three bases, scoring on Albert Pujols' sacrifice fly to deep right.
"You get a little amped up," said Torii Hunter, whose fly ball moved Trout to third. "You know he came off the perfect game, and you say, 'Hey, he's not going to do that to us.' We got rid of that in the first inning."
After Brandon Crawford's two-run triple handed Cain a lead in the second, Mark Trumbo got the Angels even with a bomb to right-center, his 16th of a scintillating sophomore season.
Cain then went into damage-control mode. He left runners at the corners after Trumbo's homer with a double-play grounder. In the third, the Giants having taken the lead for keeps in the top half with three straight singles, Cain left Trout at third after a walk by striking out Kendrys Morales and retiring Trumbo on a fly ball.
Trouble continued in the fourth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Wilson, who drove a sacrifice fly to the edge of the track in left.
The bases were loaded with two out after a walk to Hunter, and here came Pujols. He'd entered the game 8-for-14 with two homers against Cain, who found the right offspeed combination to frustrate the Angels' celebrated slugger with a fielder's choice grounder.
"He's as even-keeled a player as I've ever seen -- and I've seen a lot of players," said Loux, who was 2-2 in six starts for the 2009 Angels before moving to the bullpen and eventually off the roster. "I watch film of him to study how he handles situations.
"The guy throws a perfect game, and the next day he's the exact same person -- not that you'd expect anything else from him."
Cain shot David Letterman's Top 10 earlier in the day and was presented a samurai sword commemorating his perfect game. Giants manager Bruce Bochy kept close watch on his ace and decided 100 pitches were enough after the intense nature of his previous outing.
"Sure, he was feeling the residuals of his last start," Bochy said. "You could tell he wasn't quite on, missing his spots. But he comes so well, he found a way to get through five."
Since 2006, no pitcher in the Majors has been given less run support than Cain, whose 78-75 career record does the gentleman from Alabama no justice.
"He's unflappable, and that comes from being mentally strong and having to deal with tough times," Bochy said. "He's had to deal with more of it than anybody on this club. These players are out to win, but they like to see their numbers look good, too.
"He never wavers. He's lost some tough ones where he gave up a hit or two but he never shows frustration, never points fingers, [said], 'Oh, pitiful me.'"
Bochy would love to see Cain rewarded with an All-Star Game start -- after a few more quality outings for the Giants, of course.
"It'd be great to see something like that happen," Bochy said. "Not just because of the tough luck he's had, but because of the way he handled it."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less