HOUSTON -- Things were headed in the right direction for Matt Cain, who was in search of his 13th win of the season. But what had looked to be lucky No. 13 suddenly turned unlucky. Cain was unable to hold onto an early two-run lead and the Giants couldn't provide him with enough support, falling, 4-3, to the Houston Astros on Monday night at Minute Maid Park. Cain gave up a pair of home runs that cost him a shot at becoming the first pitcher in the National League to reach 13 wins. "[Matt] pitched a good ballgame, especially in this ballpark. I thought he threw the ball well," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He gave up a few long balls, but overall he pitched well enough to get a win."
Cain had been close to untouchable through the first four innings. He sat down 11 of the first 14 batters he faced and took a 2-0 lead into the fourth, where Astros third baseman Geoff Blum greeted Cain with a solo home run that cut the lead to 2-1. The right-hander promptly shook off the blast and retired the next three batters quickly, keeping the lead intact. However, in the fifth, Cain wouldn't be so lucky. A leadoff triple to Michael Bourn, who was the only batter to reach base through the first three innings of the game, and then a two-run home run off the right-field foul pole erased the lead and sent the Giants to just their third loss with Cain on the mound. "I thought the one to Blum was a good pitch; he just got the barrel to it. And then the one to [Kazuo] Matsui, I haven't taken a look at, but I assume he just got the head [of the bat] on it," Cain said. Prior to the Matsui home run, the Giants were unable to cash in on a bases-loaded opportunity with one out in the top half of the sixth. Cain and Eugenio Velez struck out in the frame, leaving the three runners stranded in their attempt to extended what was a 2-1 lead. The Giants would leave 10 runners on base as Cain took a loss for the first time since June 26, which was also on the road against an NL Central opponent in Milwaukee. "[Cain] keeps you off-balance," Bourn said. "His fastball is sneaky and everything else is off-speed. In the eighth, he was still throwing 95-96 mph." While he was still hitting the radar gun in the mid-90s in the eighth, Cain would give up a two-out RBI single to Carlos Lee in that frame that put the Giants behind 4-2. "That run obviously went on to win the game," Cain said. "That is a big run to keep it 3-2, and I left a slider up a little bit and he was able to bloop it over the infield." Cain would finish tossing eight innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and striking out five, but couldn't overcome the lack of run support. Through the first three innings, the Giants put up seven hits -- all singles -- against Astros starter Mike Hampton, but only scratched across two runs. After the third, they only managed four hits. After the first two batters of the game grounded out, the Giants put together a two-out rally against Hampton. Pablo Sandoval and Bengie Molina singled and Ryan Garko laced a base hit up the middle to drive in Sandoval for the game's first run and a early 1-0 lead. Molina then gave the Giants their second run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the third. Sandoval pulled them within 4-3 in the ninth with an RBI double off Houston closer Jose Valverde, but again the Giants couldn't come through with the tying run on second. "We didn't cash in on the opportunities," Bochy said. "We had their guy on the ropes a few times but couldn't get another hit to put a crooked number on the board."
Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.