Matt Cain needed 86 pitches to throttle the Dodgers over the first six innings. He threw a first-pitch strike to 15 of the 22 batters he faced, struck out three and walked none. Matt Kemp roped a double to lead off the 2nd, there were two clean singles and two dink hits, but that was it for LA. Kemp obliged by grounding into a 3rd-inning double play, nicely evening the ledger. Good thing--he'd been the Giants nemesis in the first two games. The Giants looked like champions for the first time in 2011. Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, and Jeremy Affeldt all worked a scoreless inning in relief of Cain and every Giants position player got at least one plate appearance. In all, it was a very satisfying Saturday afternoon.
Both managers went with a B-team approach with the day game following two night games, and it worked beautifully for Bruce Bochy and San Francisco. Mark DeRosa got the nod at 3B and smacked two hits, scored two, and drove in two from the 7-slot. Aaron Rowand took CF and the 8-slot and managed two hits and a run scored. Miguel Tejada--in the leadoff spot--also had two hits and two RBI. Ted Lilly looked sharp right out of the gate, getting the first six outs with 22 pitches. DeRosa and Rowand broke the ice in the 3rd with singles and after Cain's bunt the Giants scored on Tejada's grounder. Rowand's single in the 5th led to a balk and the Dodger lefty's undoing. The Giants, starved offensively for two games, broke out with three in the 5th, chasing Lilly, and four in the 6th off Kenley Jansen. Brandon Belt had another lovely game despite not getting a hit. He saw 28 pitches in five PA and worked two walks, one leading off the 6th. He then stole second base and that sparked the big rally that put the game on ice. Freddy Sanchez was a hitting star, with a double and a homer and three RBI, one of his RBI hits a gorgeous softball "ducksnort" that was wonderful payback for the cheapies we endured from the home squad in the two losses.
But Matt Cain. Matt Cain! It is so easy to be lulled by the big right-hander. He just keeps getting outs and racking up scoreless innings. He even fielded his position beautifully, laid down a nice bunt, worked a walk, and scored a run. The first out of the game was a low liner back to the box from Aaron Miles and Matty speared it with his usual craftsman-like effortlessness. It seemed to set the tone for the day. Mostly it was the steady, relentless pounding of the strike zone with big-time stuff that squeezed the air out of the enemy and led to the season's first win. I'm not sure why the baseball gods saw fit to gift us with with this terrific pitcher, but I humbly prostrate myself before them and offer what's left of my immortal soul to show my thanks.
p.s. Pat Burrell struck out three times and looked really bad doing it. Get better soon, Cody Ross!