Matt Cain hopes to get back into the win and build off a solid showing in the All-Star Game when he leads the San Francisco Giants into the finale of a three-game series versus the Houston Astros at AT&T Park.
Cain, of course, made history in a 10-0 win over Houston on June 13, when he pitched the first perfect game in the Giants' 130-year history. He posted the 22nd perfect game in the majors by striking out 14 batters, matching Sandy Koufax's total against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965 for the most in a perfect game. Cain needed 125 pitches, the most ever thrown in a perfect game.
He is 2-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career games (7 starts) against the Astros.
The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out one over two scoreless innings in the National League's 8-0 win over the American League earlier this week. He earned the win in that one, becoming the first Giant to win an All-Star Game since Vida Blue in 1981.
Cain, however, is 0-1 with a 3.98 earned run average in his last three starts since a personal eight-game winning streak. San Francisco had won Cain's last nine starts, but has dropped each of his past three. Cain did not factor in the outcome of a 6-5 loss at Washington on July 5 and was reached for three runs in 6 2/3 innings. He is 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 17 starts.
San Francisco needed 12 innings to dispose of the Astros in Saturday's 3-2 victory, as Hector Sanchez drove in Pablo Sandoval for the game-winning run on a single to right field. Sanchez had a big impact on the game, ending 4-for-6 with two RBI.
Melky Cabrera had two hits and drove in a run, while Angel Pagan and Sandoval each had two hits and a run scored for the Giants, who took over the top spot in the NL West when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the San Diego Padres. The Giants now have a one-half game lead in the division and won for the third time in five tries.
Giants struggling starter Tim Lincecum pitched well despite not recording a decision, and struck out 11 over eight scoreless innings. Jeremy Affeldt got the win thanks to Sanchez's game-winning RBI single.
"He's had a tough go but it's all about being resilient and bouncing back," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. "He did tonight and hopefully he'll carry this into the next game."
San Francisco will visit Atlanta and Philadelphia after wrapping up its quick residency versus Houston.
The Astros are flailing and look to salvage the finale of this set. They have lost three straight and 12 of 13 games, and are mired in a 12-game road skid.
Justin Maxwell had an RBI and a run scored, while Brett Myers fell to 0-4 on the season after surrendering the game-winning hit. Lucas Harrell started for Houston and tossed five innings of one-run ball.
"We had a chance to win," Maxwell said on the team's website. "It just shows a lot about this team, that we never give up."
Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie sustained an ankle and knee injury in the third inning and will most likely miss Sunday's game. He was using crutches after the game.
"My knee and ankle both hurt," Lowrie said on Houston's site. "I can't really tell you which is worse."
The Astros haven't won on the road since June 14 at San Francisco and are 0-2 on a 10-game trek against the Giants, Padres and Diamondbacks.
Bud Norris gets the nod for the Astros and hopes to end a lengthy losing streak this afternoon. Norris, who hasn't won since May 21 versus the Cubs, has lost five straight starts and Houston is winless the last six times he has taken the hill.
In a 2-0 setback at Pittsburgh on July 5, Norris pitched well and allowed both runs and five hits in seven innings of work. He walked three and fell to 5-6 in 15 starts to go along with a 4.71 ERA.
Norris, a right-hander, won four straight starts from May 5 - May 21 and lost to the Giants on June 12 in a 6-3 setback. He lasted 3 1/3 innings and was reached for three runs and three hits. Norris is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in two career starts against San Francisco.
The Giants won two of three over the Astros at home in mid-June and have claimed 16 of the last 23 meetings overall.