SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain threw so effectively Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays that his biggest flaw in the Giants' 4-0 Interleague loss to the Toronto Blue Jays was not as a pitcher, but as a hitter.
Entering the game with a 7.84 ERA, Cain sustained his strongest effort of the season. He worked eight innings, matching his longest outing since Aug. 1, 2013, at Philadelphia. The right-hander struck out seven and walked none while yielding two runs and six hits.
Cain's lone tormentor was Troy Tulowitzki, the five-time All-Star shortstop. Another struggling star -- he began the game hitting .165 -- Tulowitzki homered in the second inning and hoisted a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning after Michael Saunders tripled.
Cain also hurt himself in the sixth inning, when the Giants created an excellent chance to threaten Toronto's 1-0 lead. Facing Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, Jarrett Parker drew a leadoff walk and Kelby Tomlinson singled. Up came Cain, who aimed his sacrifice-bunt attempt toward the worst direction possible -- straight to Happ, who fired the ball to third base for a forceout. The next batter, Denard Span, made solid contact but rapped into a 6-4-3 double play.
"I did a bad job of that," Cain said. "I just didn't get the angle right to third base. Right there, that could have changed the game. That's our job as pitchers to get the bunt down where it needs to be."
Overall, Cain was resolute, permitting three Blue Jays to reach scoring position. However, he declined to acknowledge this was his best outing of the season.
"I felt good [in] a lot of other games, too. I might have made a few more mistakes," he said. "Today we did a good job of keeping those mistakes to a minimum. When we had guys on, [we] made the pitches that we needed to."
Cain did admit his performance felt gratifying, "especially [against] a team that can swing it like those guys. This is something to try to build off of and carry into the next one."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that Cain (0-5) has consistently thrown well in his between-starts bullpen sessions.
"He just carried it into the game tonight," Bochy said. "This should do a lot for him."
Catcher Buster Posey sensed Cain was destined to succeed while the batterymates worked in the bullpen during pregame warmups.
"That doesn't always translate into the game, but it did tonight," Posey said. "I think he was down in the [strike] zone the best I've seen him this year."
Cain's performance suitably impressed Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who relished both sides' excellent pitching.
"I know he has been struggling a little bit," Gibbons said of Cain. "He's on the comeback trail, but he has always been one of the top pitchers in baseball. He had a nice little breaking ball, changed speeds, throwing that cut fastball that starts in to right-handers and bring it back over the plate. Then he had some guys set up and threw some fastballs by them. He did a hell of a job, too."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. 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.