Matt Cain flirted with perfection last time out. He'll probably be happy with a series victory this evening as the San Francisco Giants play the rubber match of a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
After getting roughed up in his season debut on April 8 in Arizona, Cain threw an absolute gem on Friday versus Pittsburgh. He finished with a one-hit shutout and struck out 11, and the only hit he gave up was a two-out single to opposing starting pitcher James McDonald in the sixth inning.
The right-hander threw 73 of his 106 pitches for strikes and faced one batter over the minimum, picking up his first win since signing a six-year, $127.5 million contract extension earlier this month.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said catcher Buster Posey came to him during the game and told him he could tell Cain "was on, was locked in."
"And he's one of the best when he's locked in," said Bochy.
The 27-year-old Cain hasn't been locked in much against the Phillies in his career, posting a 1-4 record and 4.17 earned run average in seven meetings.
Still, if Cain can pitch like he did last week, tonight's finale could turn into a pitcher's duel given the history of Phillies starter Cliff Lee against San Francisco.
Lee has won all four of his career starts against the Giants, logging two complete games, one a shutout, and a 0.82 ERA while striking out 29 over 33 innings. He went the distance in his lone start against them last season, hurling a seven-hit shutout while fanning eight.
The 33-year-old left comes into this start still searching for his first win of 2012. Lee got a no-decision in Pittsburgh on April 7 despite giving up only one run on two hits and two walks over six innings. He then took a loss at home versus the Mets on Friday, touched for four runs on five hits in seven innings while striking out seven.
Lee gave up two homers in the setback, including a three-run shot to the Mets' Jason Bay in the first inning.
"I wish I could have back the pitch to Bay. It was a bad pitch down the middle," Lee said, adding, "Other than that, I felt pretty good. I wish I could've kept the ball in the ballpark."
The Giants drew even in this series with last night's 4-2 victory. One day after signing a five-year extension with the Giants, Madison Bumgarner allowed two runs over six-plus innings to get the win.
Nate Schierholtz had three hits and an RBI, Posey added three hits and Melky Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford all added an RBI for San Francisco, which snapped a brief two-game slide.
"I'm just trying to stay through the ball and get the barrel on it," said Posey. "I feel like I have two strikes every at-bat right now and it's just one of those things where I'm up there battling."
Hunter Pence cracked a solo homer and Carlos Ruiz knocked in a run for the Phillies, who failed to record their first three-game win streak of the season.
Joe Blanton took the loss after giving up four runs on 11 hits over five innings.
Philadelphia took three of four in San Francisco last season.