Rewind: Rockies at Giants, Game 3

With the Giants recent slide, many San Francisco faithful have been clamoring for a shift in philosophy. Tinker with the lineup. Rotate the pitchers in the bullpen. Give the youngsters a chance to start. Dare to dream, but Giants fans may not ever see drastic changes so long as Brian Sabean is at the helm and skipper Felipe Alou has to make sense of the spare parts he is given.

The one saving grace for the San Francisco Giants, however, lies in the courage, poise and pitching fervor of rookie Matt Cain. After all, pressure is only an eight-letter word for the 21-year-old.

Cain (8-8) continued his masterful pitching by helping the Giants salvage the rubber game of a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies, 6-2, Sunday afternoon at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

“I'm definitely going to (savor) this one because of the situation we're in right now,” Cain told the Associated Press. “We've got a lot of games left. If we get on a roll, it will work out fine for us. We're not that far out anyway."

How’s that for veteran presence and clubhouse leadership?

The rookie right-hander struck out a career-high 12 batters in seven innings of two-run ball, en route to his eighth win and the just the Giants second victory in 13 games.

“Definitely from the first inning on, I feel relaxed and calm and understand what I need to do,” Cain told MLB.com. “I almost feel as the season wears on your body and you get a little tired ... maybe not tired, but comfortable and in a relaxed state, instead of hyper.”

The rook looked comfortable and relaxed at the plate when he contributed an RBI-single in the sixth, a bases loaded single of losing pitcher Aaron Cook.

“We've been getting some real good starting pitching here, almost all year,” manager Felipe Alou told the AP. “If we could put it together with some saves, some holds in the eighth inning, that would translate to a couple of more wins.”

One pitcher holding leads is right-hander Vinnie Chulk, who was acquired with Shea Hillenbrand on July 21. Since then, the four-year vet has allowed just two runs in 8 2/3 innings (2.08 ERA).

“I'm eager to get the ball whenever he wants to give it to me -- whether it's the sixth, eighth, it doesn't matter,” Chulk told MLB.com.

Chulk helped close out the victory in relief of Cain as he mowed down the eighth and ninth innings to secure the win.

“I'm throwing now with more of a downhill plane, so it's harder to hit it on the barrel,” said Chulk, who credits pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner for his increased accuracy.

“They (tell me) to keep my hand closer to my head when I throw because the ball seems to have a lot more action,” Chulk said. “I feel it, and it'll be a perfect pitch. I need to do it every time.”

If only the Giants could feel the need to play perfectly every time. In two weeks, San Francisco has dropped to the very bottom of the division and five games from first place.

The G-men head to Arizona for a 10-game road trip which culminates in San Diego. But first the Giants take on the D-Backs at Chase Field, beginning with a 6:40 p.m. game Monday.

San Francisco will hope to keep the stellar pitching going with ace Jason Schmidt (8-7, 3.11 ERA) against righty Enrique Gonzalez (3-3, 5.40 ERA).

Game notes: Mark Sweeney made a rare start and went 3-for-4 with two RBI. … The Giants prevented the Rockies from sweeping a series in San Francisco for the first time in franchise history. … Barry Bonds had his best series in a while going 5-for-12 with a homer, two RBI, and three runs scored. … Cain's dozen punchouts combined with Schmidt's 16 whiffs on June 6 against Florida give San Francisco its first starting combo to strike out 12 or more batters in a game since Pete Falcone and John Montefusco did so in 1975. …

SFDugout.com player of the game: No-brainer here. Matt Cain continues his ascent to pitching greatness as he evened his record. Cain's best outings have been outstanding this season: One-hitter against Oakland in May, an 11-strikeout performance against San Diego in July, and was four outs away from a no-hitter against the Angels in June.



Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at phildelacruz@aol.com to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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