Cain's solid start buoyed by Pence's big return

Cain's solid start buoyed by Pence's big return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain was the biggest beneficiary of Hunter Pence's comeback performance, yielding two hits in six innings Monday night as the Giants ended their seven-game losing streak with a 3-0 decision over the New York Mets.

Pence drove in two runs and started a double play by making a tumbling catch of Ruben Tejada's fly ball to the right-field bullpen followed by a flawless throw home to catcher Andrew Susac on the fly to retire Curtis Granderson in the sixth inning.

"He put it right on the money for Susac," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Conveying his admiration for the catch as well as the throw, Bochy added, "It's one of the best plays I've seen -- the whole play."

Must C: Pence's great return

Pence's effort complemented Cain's. The right-hander, who has overcome elbow surgery and a strained flexor tendon, threw 66 strikes in 95 pitches during his first start at AT&T Park this season and initial victory since last July 9.

"It's been a long time, a long road," Cain said. "I definitely didn't think it was going to be this long in between being back out here but it [was]. ... It was nice to be back and throwing here. I had a little taste of that in the exhibition games and it was just a nice welcome. Today, it couldn't have been better. The crowd was great."

The Mets, who entered the game batting a National League-low .233, squandered their scattered scoring chances. They left the bases loaded in the third inning, couldn't capitalize on Curtis Granderson's leadoff triple in the sixth and wasted Kevin Plawecki's leadoff double in the eighth.

"We had four extra-base hits and we couldn't push anything across," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "All we had to do was something here or there and I think it would have been an interesting finish."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
He's baaaack: The Mets found a rare bit of life against Cain when Granderson tripled to lead off the sixth. Then Pence happened. The next batter, Tejada, lifted a popup to shallow right field, where Pence raced over to catch it in foul territory. The Giants right fielder then popped to his feet and fired a strike to home plate, giving Susac just enough time to slap a tag on Granderson for a rally-killing double play.

"I saw him dive for it and I took off," Granderson said. "I figured if a guy's going to have to get on the ground for it, it's not as easy of a play even though the distance of it isn't as far. But he was able to get up quickly and make a really good throw." More >

Leaving 'em loaded: For a brief while, Cain lost his control, walking the bases loaded after a one-out Plawecki double in the third. But Daniel Murphy struck out to end one of the Mets' best scoring chances, en route to an 0-for-4 night.

Cain escapes bases-loaded jam

Cain often relied on his fastball, which hovered between 92 and 94 mph, at such critical junctures.

"Even throughout the whole rehab [starts], I've been kind of flashing a couple of those numbers up there," Cain said. "But I wasn't too worried about it. I was just worried about making good pitches."

Mightier 'pen: Needing a resurgent effort from the relievers, who have struggled lately, the Giants received one. George Kontos worked a scoreless seventh. Hunter Strickland struck out a pair of batters in the eighth before rookie left-hander Josh Osich prompted an inning-ending fielder's choice grounder. Santiago Casilla worked the ninth for his 21st save.

Casilla notches the save

QUOTABLE
"If you check his numbers, he's got really good numbers against me. So that could be the purpose of why they brought him here and put him in the lineup today." -- Mets starter Bartolo Colon on Pence, who is now 6-for-11 against him in his career

Colon whiffs Pence

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mets were shut out for the 10th time this season, all of them coming in their last 61 games. Only the Padres (13 times) have been blanked more often.

WHAT'S NEXT
Mets: Jacob deGrom will make his final start before the All-Star Game in Wednesday's 3:45 p.m. ET series finale at AT&T Park. He had a rare hiccup in his last outing, giving up four runs in 5 1/3 innings, but is still 8-6 with a 2.30 ERA on the season. deGrom will be heading to Cincinnati for All-Star festivities next week.

Giants: San Francisco's goal of improving its overall performance as the All-Star break approaches will be doubly important in Wednesday's 12:45 p.m. PT series finale. The Giants are facing the stingy deGrom, who's 5-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his last nine starts. Giants right-hander Jake Peavy will oppose DeGrom. Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.