Matt Cain tossed the 22nd perfect game in major league history last June 13. On Thursday, though, the San Francisco Giants will settle for a win, as they try to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Cain hasn't exactly been perfect for the defending champions this season, going a mere 4-3 with a 5.09 ERA. However, he was pretty good his last time out on Friday in Arizona, but had nothing to show for it, as he received a no- decision, despite giving up just a run in seven innings.
Cain has faced the Pirates nine times and is 2-2 against them with a 3.10 ERA.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will counter with righty Charlie Morton, who will be pitching for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June 14.
"It's hard to describe," Morton said Wednesday. "I'm not really emotional right now. I think the biggest thing honestly was, the largest emotional event in the rehab, was the first bullpen. And the first [extended spring training] game, which was April 8. That's kind of like you're testing the waters a little bit and you can sense where you are. Tomorrow, yeah, I just appreciate it."
Morton, who will be starting in place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez, underwent Tommy John surgery last June 14. He was 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 40 2/3 innings, while rehabbing with the Pirates minor league affiliates.
"I haven't seen (Morton)," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "I've seen video -- it's not the same, so I'm looking forward to seeing it. Actually, if we can go get the Charlie that we had in the first half of the season in 2011, we'll take that in a bottle and roll."
Pittsburgh's bats exploded on Wednesday, as Andrew McCutchen finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored in the Pirates' 12-8 win. Neil Walker homered among his two hits and also drove in three runs for the Pirates, who have won four of five overall thanks to setting a new season high for runs in one contest.
"The offense is coming around and we're scoring a lot of runs," McCutchen said of his team's recent success. "We were able to score enough runs tonight."
Russell Martin added two RBI, while Starling Marte ended up with four hits and scored four times.
Francisco Liriano (5-2) did well enough to win, allowing eight hits and four runs over his six-inning start.
Joaquin Arias picked up a pair of hits and drove in three runs for the Giants, losers in four of their last six. Buster Posey added two RBI, while Hunter Pence doubled twice, scored twice and added a run driven in.
Barry Zito (4-5) was pulled after 4 2/3 frames, having surrendered 11 hits and eight runs for San Francisco, which played without the services of suspended manager Bruce Bochy.
"Too many fastballs up in the zone," Zito said. "If you're not throwing your fastball down in the zone your other stuff's not quite as effective."
The Giants and Pirates split six meetings a season ago, with each team taking two of three at home.